Former Communist EU Members in Eastern Europe Get Warning by Slovak Commissioner
Maros Sefcovic is the only Eastern European presently bidding to become the next President of the European Commission.
European Commission Vice President for the Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic, who is Slovakia’s member of the EU executive, has become the latest official to warn the former communist EU members from Eastern Europe over judicial independence and the rule of law.
Sefcovic stated on Monday that if the Eastern European members of the EU such as Poland and Hungary failed to live up to the Union’s rules on the independence of the judiciary and upholding the rule of law, they would face increased budgetary pressure from the EU institutions and the Western European net contributors to the common budget.
In his words, states that benefit from EU funding should expect richer countries to impose stiffer conditions linking funding to respect for EU standards.
The wealthiest Western EU states had made demands for closer controls, Sefcovic told Reuters with respect to proposals by the European Commission to tie funding to democratic norms in the next EU budget
“If you want to spend European taxpayers’ money, then there should be a 100% guarantee that they are properly supervised – that you have independent courts, that you have independent auditors and you have an independent judicial system which is controlling how this money is spent,” he explained.
“I’m sure that this will be beefed up,” he added while suggesting that EU funding could be linked to accepting oversight by the new European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO).
A total of five EU member states, including Poland and Hungary which have been censured by Brussels over the rule of law, are yet to sign up to EPPO, which is supposed to combat fraud and corruption affecting EU funds.
“My idea would be if you do not accept the jurisdiction of the European prosecutor then be ready for much more scrutiny,” the EC Vice President said.
Sefcovic, a career diplomat educated in Moscow, is presently the only Eastern European who has declared his bid to be picked as the center-left candidate to become the next President of the European Commission after Jean-Claude Juncker retires in 2019.
He said he was running for EC head in order to demonstrate that the top EU job was open to people from all parts of Europe, and called upon the Europeans not to an accept “an Iron Curtain in our minds”
Sefcovic vowed to promote major investment in new technologies in order to keep Europe competitive if he becomes the next chief of the EU executive.
He said he would like to see “a couple of” super-computers in the EU to compete with those running in the United States.
Slovakia’s EU Commissioner also reminded of his Battery Alliance drive to promote the manufacture of the key new transport technology in Europe, saying that in time the project could result in 20 new “gigafactories”.
Sefcovic argued that European companies should face less pressure to break up by competition regulators in order to be able to compete globally.
(Banner image: Maros Sefcovic on Twitter)