Linking European funds to other things would be against EU principles, says Romanian Foreign Minister
Romania and Poland are against making the disbursement of European funds to member states conditional on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in those respective countries, the two foreign ministers said in a joint statement made in Bucharest on Thursday.
Teodor Melescanu and Jacek Czaputowicz thus answered a question regarding messages coming from Brussels, according to which the allocation of community funds to certain states might be influenced by possible changes in the justice system. European funds are not a favor, and both Romania and Poland contribute to the extent of their capacity to the EU budget, said Minister Melescanu:
Teodor Melescanu: “In my opinion, this would be a gross infringement not only of the provisions of the EU Treaties but also of the fundamental principles of the EU, whose main objective is to ensure solidarity and convergence between the economies of member states. Obviously, the cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy are instruments aimed at boosting convergence between the economies of the more developed countries of the EU and our countries. It is by no means an act of charity.”
Professor Iulian Chifu, the president of the Conflict Prevention Center, has commented on the issue:
Iulian Chifu: “These are two half answers. The Romanian Foreign Minister is right when he talks about the purpose of these funds, which are meant for the less developed countries, with lower capacity and competitiveness, and are designed to help them develop and reach the European average level or the level of important European countries. On the other hand, failure to observe the criteria of the rule of law, of the independence of the judiciary and of the fight against corruption raises questions regarding the usefulness of these funds.”
In the case of Poland, the messages sent by Brussels are even harsher than those sent to Romania so far. The violation of the rule of law and of the independence of the judiciary might trigger the activation of Article 7 in the EU Treaty, which entails the suspension of Warsaw’s right to vote in the European Council. Minister Melescanu also expressed Bucharest’s stand in this regard:
Teodor Melescanu: “Our interest and wish is to avoid by all means a vote that would not help anybody and would only create unnecessary problems.”
According to the Polish Foreign Minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, Poland has received signals from other states, such as Hungary, that they will not vote for the activation of Article 7. The Polish official also underscored that, should Poland identify instances of EU institutions not treating EU countries in the region properly, it would defend them. But it seems that nobody in Bucharest wants this to happen.