The EPP's Double Standards on the Rule of Law, EU Funds and Bulgaria
The European People's Party applies double standards when it comes to the rule of law in the European Union, the “Politico” writes in an extensive coverage on the debates on Bulgaria in the European Parliament.
The EPP said it wanted to combat abuse of EU funds, but avoided criticising Bulgaria on graft. Even if the centre-right political group pushes for new rules stopping EU funds for governments that do not adhere to European values, the corruption crisis in Bulgaria exposes the party to accusations of double standards as far as its political allies are concerned, the publication notes.
In the European Parliament on Thursday, most center-right MEPs are expected to vote against a resolution that expresses concern that European funds are contributing to high-level corruption in Bulgaria, which has been the scene of anti-government protests for the past three months.
The period of voting on the resolution for Bulgaria is an inconvenient test for the EPP. This means that the EPP must protect the use of EU money in Bulgaria, while trying to present itself as a leading supporter of new actions that will make the payment of EU funds dependent on the rule of law.
"Since July, Bulgaria has been mired in a complex political fiasco that reveals how mafia kings effectively rule the state in parallel through their influence over the media, the judiciary and the security apparatus. Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev, other opposition leaders and protesters on the streets of the country accuse Borisov of allowing the mafia to take over the country”, Politico writes.
The EPP's approach to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party has also undermined the EPP's image in recent years. The EPP froze Fidesz's membership in March 2019 over concerns about the rule of law and its anti-Brussels rhetoric but failed to agree on whether to accept Fidesz back into the group or exclude it altogether, as many members refused to cast out Orban. At the same time, Fidesz MEPs continue to participate in the work of the EPP group in the European Parliament.
The main argument of the EPP is that a change in Bulgaria should come through the regular elections in the spring of 2021, not the protest movement. For many of the protesters, this argument is pointless. They argue that this is an excuse not to stop EU funds for Bulgaria, which have created deep-rooted parallel networks of power in institutions such as the judiciary, which are now more powerful than democratically elected politicians, Politico notes.