STRASBOURG, France:  The European Union will freeze funding for member states flouting democratic tenets and will step up its fight against corruption, the head of the bloc's executive told her annual policy speech to European lawmakers.

"We will keep insisting on judicial independence. And we will also protect our budget through the conditionality mechanism," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

She was referring to the EU's "cash for democracy" budget sanction that allows to stop funding to countries undercutting core tenets of liberal democracies. (Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Marine Strauss)