A not entirely accurate map

Just a little something to keep an eye upon in the years to come. The European Union’s definition of the rule of law. For this is happening:

Brussels will have powers to cut off cash to countries that fail a new “rule of law” test under the European Union’s first post-Brexit spending plan.

The European Commission’s €1.3 trillion budget for 2021-28, presented by Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday, attempts to fill the hole left in the EU’s coffers by Britain’s exit but risks deepening faultlines across the bloc over divisive issues including refugee quotas and judicial independence.

Mr Juncker, the commission president, anticipating such battles, as well as arguments about how to slice the Brussels pie, urged members to show solidarity in the months ahead. He insisted that the new budget represented an “opportunity to shape our future as a new, ambitious union of 27”.

However, the plan threatens to institutionalise already widening east-west divisions. Poland and Hungary have led protests at the demand that funding be made conditional on passing the new “rule of law” test.

The proposal, described as a “major innovation”, is designed to prevent former eastern bloc countries violating democratic freedoms, and force them to respect EU quotas of refugees, on pain of losing Brussels cash.

For what can we define as the rule of law?

That all must follow what is written down on the piece of paper? The EU doesn’t exactly work that way, does it, as that demand for Apple to pay €13 billion in taxes rather shows.

Or is there some grander version of law in mind here? For example, there’s an interesting little scuffle going on over money allocated to groupings in the EU parliament. Only those who support the basics of the EU can get the money from being in a grouping. And that’s where the money is, in groupings, not in individual seats or parties. But the “basics” of the EU include ever closer union – so, should a grouping which includes Ukip, definitively not interested in closer union, get group funding?

We can see the danger. Of course, anyone can stand for election but only if they accord to some basic rules. Like, say, being a member of the communist party as at least one country has said in the past. The thing about the EU’s insistence on the rule of law isn’t that they’ll bend it in this manner, it’s only how far they will.

By the way, note what they already mean – when an elected national government doesn’t do what it’s told to by Brussels, that’s not the rule of law.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. well i get the point that distribution of funds is always political and Brussels’s rule of law criterion can be interpreted as a blanket to cover a carrot and lack of carrot incentive scheme, incentive for what though, to follow the rule of law or to follow the hints of the paymasters? I still think they’ve got a bit of a point though… I really dislike the idea of EU funds going to corrupt regimes, and in order to be corrupt for any length of time a regime does have to own the judiciary.

  2. Everyone would like a member nation to have an independent judiciary — to have wide participation rather than have power be the heritable asset of a single family. The EU adds in the same breath refugee “rights” — that is, that member states elevate foreign excuse-making over national integrity — primarily to blur the concept of Rule of Law. The “grouping” policy is a means toward gentle and partial disenfranchisement of adversaries. Tim is right; what the EU means by Rule of Law is: Do as we say.

    Can’t exit quick enough! Fortunately, the article suggests that the EU is taking Brexit as a done deal and burning more bridges.

  3. The UK Parliament provides funding to groupings that sit in Parliament – which is why Sinn Féin doesn’t get any funding – but it’s irrelevant what policies you have – which is why Sinn Féin would get money if they took their seats, and do get office support.

    Saying “you’re only allowed in if you support those in powers” is tanatamount to banning the opposition.

  4. If the EU try to force Eastern Europe to take large numbers of non-EU immigrants they may find that they will lose more members. That’s nothing to do with rule of law and no-one will think it is anything but economic blackmail.

    Nationalists of vaguely anti-EU stripes are already quite popular. Taking in Moslem or African refugees may well put them in full control.

  5. If the EU try to force Eastern Europe to take large numbers of non-EU immigrants they may find that they will lose more members.

    Nah. The likes of Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán are of the view that they should “take the money and stay”. So while they hold the threat of the V4 leaving, they won’t do so while the EU money keeps flowing their way.

    What is more likely is that if EU money does become funding then blind eyes will be turned and just like happens in the Baltics, the “allocated vibrant ethnics” will be given little to nothing in welfare payments (certainly not enough to actually live on), but might be handed a one-way ticket to Berlin and directions to the train station.

    No vibrant ethnic is going to stay in Poland, Hungary or wherever in Eastern Europe if there is absolutely nothing preventing them from going to somewhere like Germany where they can get tons of free taxpayers cash and the won’t be under continual threat of the locals with long memories of earlier “vibrant ethnic enrichment”.

    The EU’s position is essentially attempting to appease the German politicians (who fear their electorates because of rising problems because of Merkel’s invited “guests”) and the Eastern European politicians who know that there is political capital to be gained in taking a strong position against such “new Europeans”.

    The only solution to this will be the Swedish one of turning a blind eye and hiding the figures / preventing reporting.