European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says the European Union should have stronger tools to crack down on member states who do not comply with the bloc's basic values.
Barroso's comments came in an address to the European Parliament on September 11.
EU member states Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria have recently been criticized for breaches of fundamental values like human rights, judiciary independence, and the rule of law.
The speech was Barroso's last "State of the Union" address before he finishes his second five-year term as head of the EU's executive in November 2014.
He said recovery was in sight for the 28-member union after Europe's four-year economic slump. He urged governments to move faster toward a banking union to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP