Luxembourg / Warsaw / Budapest (dpa) – Hungary and Poland are taking the European Court of Justice against the new rule of law clause in the EU budget.
EU top judges must now examine whether the new mechanism to reduce EU funds for certain rule of law violations is permissible. Its application will likely be delayed for months. With the new legal dispute before the CJEU, the conflict over basic values in the EU is increasing.
Only at the last minute did the EU countries reach the EU’s multiannual financial framework until 2027 and last year’s corona development program. Part of the € 1.8 trillion package is the rule of law mechanism, which Hungary and Poland reject for the first time. They did not file their lawsuit just before the deadline on Thursday, dragging the lawsuit off.
“We cannot allow this EU provision, which seriously violates EU law, to remain in force,” Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga wrote on Facebook. Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said this solution was believed to have no legal basis in the EU treaties. Only objective and specific conditions should apply to the allocation of money from the EU budget. The EU has no competence to define the term “rule of law”.
As far as the rule of law is concerned, both countries have long been problem children in the EU. Both receive billions of euros net from the EU budget, while legal proceedings are under way against them under Article 7 of the EU Treaties for alleged violations of the EU’s fundamental values. The national conservative government in Poland is reorganizing the judiciary despite international criticism and putting pressure on judges. Viktor Orban’s right-wing national government in Hungary has been criticized for its refugee, media, university and judicial policies.
Poland and Hungary finally agreed on the budget package, including the rule of law clause, in December. As a compromise, Germany – then in the Presidency of the Council – made an additional statement. The focus was on clarifying that the rule of law mechanism can be revised by the Court of Justice. Hungary and Poland announced at the time that they would make use of this and are now implementing it.
According to a spokesperson, the European Commission is waiting for the ECJ’s ruling before proposing a cut in EU money for the first time. A procedure at the Court of Justice takes an average of one and a half years. In an accelerated procedure that the European Parliament is likely to propose, it will take another ten months.
But MEPs do not want to wait for that either: “Regardless of the trial, the President of the European Commission (Ursula) Von der Leyen must finally apply the rule of law mechanism to drain the corruption swamp in Hungary and restore the independence of the judiciary in Hungary. Poland, ”said FDP politician Moritz Grains.
Katarina Barley (SPD) warned: “Every day the European Commission does not use the rule of law mechanism does irreparable damage to democracy in Europe.” The lawsuits brought by Poland and Hungary are likely to have “no suspensive effect”. If necessary, the European Parliament will force the European Commission to act before the Court of Justice.
Daniel Freund of the Greens also threatened legal action against the authority. “The rule of law in Europe cannot wait. If the European Commission remains inactive, the European Parliament will file a lawsuit against the European Commission at the Court of Justice. “
Von der Leyen, on the other hand, emphasized in December that she did not see the effect of the rule of law clause limited by lawsuits from Poland and Hungary. “Not a single case is lost,” said the CDU politician at the time. “If there is a violation of the rule of law, this case will be included.” As soon as the ECJ ruled, these cases would be dealt with.
The additional statement on the rule of law mechanism also explains that establishing a breach of the rule of law alone is not enough to reduce EU financial support. Rather, it must be shown that the infringement has a negative effect on the use of EU money. On controversial issues, the Council of Heads of State or Government should address the issue.