Can EU funds promote the rule of law in Europe?

The European Union should start withholding funds from member-states that do not respect its values and reward those that do. This tough love approach is the key recommendation for tackling the EU’s escalating rule of law crisis in a new policy brief ‘Can EU funds promote the rule of law in Europe?’. The rule of law is the best long-term guarantee that poorer EU member-states will catch up with richer ones because it gives businesses greater certainty that they can invest with confidence. But the EU has struggled to respond effectively when member-states have violated the values that underpin the bloc. The current rules mean it has to continue funding programmes in member-states even when they flout the EU’s values. If the EU can link respect for the rule of law to disbursement of its structural and investment funds (worth €450 billion between 2014 and 2020), then it will have a better chance of getting member-states to play by the rules and ensure European taxpayers’ money is spent effectively.

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