Table of Contents: I. Introduction – II. Defending the budget or the rule of law? – III. Why using spending conditionality? – IV. Scheme of the proposal. – V. Addressing the legal shortcomings of the proposal. – V.1. Is the proposal compatible with the principle of conferral? – V.2 The Commission’s excessive discretionary power: a challenge to the rule of law? – VI. No more “Money for nothing”: is there room for solidarity? – VII. Conclusions.
Abstract: The Article critically engages with the recent Commission’s proposal for a regulation on the protection of the Union’s budget in case of generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the Member States (Rule of Law Conditionality). It first considers the reasons underlying the proposal and the Commission’s choice to resort to spending conditionality in the context of the rule of law crisis. In the second part, it addresses two main rule of law issues arising from the draft regulation itself: on one hand, it attempts to define the boundaries of the Union’s competence to establish a Rule of Law Conditionality in the management of EU funds; on the other, it highlights the broad discretionary power the Commission reserved for itself and the relative shortcomings in terms of legal certainty, transparency and non-arbitrariness. Finally, the Article focuses on the complex relation between conditionality and solidarity in the EU internal dimension and analyses the proposal from this particular perspective.
Keywords: rule of law – conditionality – solidarity – European Union – multiannual financial framework – budget.
* Ph.D. candidate, University of Catania, firstname.lastname@example.org.