BRUSSELS -- Amid deep concerns about the rule of law in Hungary and Poland, European Union lawmakers want to suspend EU funds to states that interfere in their courts or fail to tackle corruption.
The lawmakers on Thursday endorsed planned new rules by a 397-158 vote with 69 abstentions. The rules must now be agreed upon with member countries.
Under the plan, the EU Commission and independent experts would identify any rule of law weaknesses and decide what penalties would be appropriate, including suspending or reducing budget payments to EU nations.
Sanctions could be imposed on those who undermine the independence of the judiciary, fail to properly investigate tax fraud or misuse EU money.
The move comes amid negotiations on the EU's long-term budget, which are expected to conclude in the fall.