The European Parliament is preparing a lawsuit against the European Commission for failing to implement a mechanism that withholds EU funds from member states that violate the rule of law.
It comes shortly after Poland's constitutional court made a ruling challenging the supremacy of EU laws.
Although Poland wasn’t mentioned specifically in Wednesday’s statement from the Parliament’s president David Sassoli, it was published a day after Commission president Ursula von der Leyen clashed with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki over the rule of law at a debate with MEPs.
Speaking after a meeting of political group leaders, Sassoli said: “EU Member States that violate the rule of law should not receive EU funds. Last year, Parliament fought hard for a mechanism to ensure this. However, so far the European Commission has been reluctant to use it.”
The mechanism, introduced at the start of the year, allows for EU funds to be withheld from member states that defy the rule of law.
It has caused major clashes between the bloc and member states Poland and Hungary, both of which have challenged the mechanism at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
But the mechanism has not yet been used by the Commission, despite von der Leyen’s assertion on Tuesday that the Polish court’s ruling won’t be left unanswered.
The Parliament is preparing a lawsuit against the Commission “to ensure that EU rules are properly enforced,” said Sassoli.
"The European Union is a community built on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. If these are under threat in a Member State, the EU must act to protect them,” the statement continued.
MEPs said in July this year that the situation in some EU countries “already warrants immediate action” on investigating breaches of rule of law.
A French official said on Wednesday it would be logical to wait until a ruling by the court of justice has been issued before activating the mechanism. The official spoke anonymously in accordance with EU practice.
The Parliament said it will withdraw the legal proceedings if the Commission “takes the necessary measures."
It has called for the mechanism to be implemented against Hungary too.
In a separate resolution on 8 July this year, Parliament condemned a Hungarian law that bans LGBTIQ content from being featured in school educational materials or TV shows for children.
It called on the Commission to trigger the mechanism to suspend or cut EU budget payments to Hungary.