Unconditional surrender? The rule of law conditionality regulation, one and a half years later

Introduced in 2020, the rule of law conditionality regulation has been hailed by the European Union as a breakthrough achievement in advancing the toolbox of EU mechanisms for protecting its core values. By creating a link between the payout of EU funds to respect for the RoL, the EU sought to effectively protect values by ensuring that governments that disrespect the independence of the judiciary and let corruption run rampant are put under financial pressure. Yet the road to the regulation being used in practice has been less rosy. Following CJEU judgments dismissing Hungarian and Polish challenges to the regulation and elaboration of Commission's guidelines for use of the regulation, the RoL conditionality has encountered an unexpected challenge, the Russian attack on Ukraine and the question whether, and to what extent, should the EU discipline its Member States facing existential challenges.The paper explores the current state of the regulation and prospects for its effective use.