ALDE Party and Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) hosted the first hybrid Liberal Breakfast of the season to discuss the impacts of rule of law breaches on EU’s economic recovery after COVID-19 on 13 October.
Katalin Cseh MEP, Renew Europe Vice-President, and Olivier Salles, Head of Unit of Policy Coordination and Communication at the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), shared their thoughts on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the rule of law. They highlighted the available tools at the European level including the Rule of Law Mechanism to face today’s challenges and the importance of holding accountable those actors that do not uphold EU values.
The panellists also commented on the role of the European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO) and OLAF to control and ensure the recovery funds received by Member States are used correctly.
“It is so fundamental for the European Union to take swift action to prevent further backsliding and to tie our European values to the heart of every policy we are doing. Because eventually it all comes down to this: whether there are repercussions in case violations are committed. This is particularly interesting in a time like this when the pandemic put extra powers in the hands of governments,” Cseh said referring to the impact of the pandemic on rule of law and human rights in the European Union.
Salles stressed that the European Parliament played a big role pushing for the principle of conditionality, which links the recovery funds to the respect of EU values. He also mentioned that other elements have been added to the mechanism: collaboration with OLAF, including a follow-up recommendation from this entity.
“This is a very delicate situation and the three institutions, Parliament, Commission and Council, need to try to work together to design a way put or a solution,” he added referring to the challenge to protect the rule of law and to grant financial aid to citizens and businesses to build back following the pandemic.
The event was moderated by Jana Weber, Human Rights Manager from FNF.
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