Rule of law violations: EU initiates proceedings against Hungary

Status: 04/27/2022 12:39 p.m

The EU is taking action against Hungary for alleged violations of the rule of law. This could cut Hungary’s financial support by billions.

In the long-standing rule of law dispute, the EU Commission is stepping up the pace against Hungary: the Brussels authorities have activated the so-called rule of law mechanism against the government in Budapest.

A corresponding letter should be sent to Budapest later that day, said EU Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova. Hungary is threatened with EU funding cuts worth millions for the first time.

Von der Leyen had announced proceedings in April

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced the move at the beginning of April, shortly after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was re-elected. Above all, the EU denounces corruption in Hungary and the illegal use of EU funds.

EU insists on democracy and fundamental rights

The so-called EU rule of law mechanism has been in force since the beginning of 2021. Last year, the EU once again laid down in a new regulation what exactly the rule of law means: Any public authority must be “within the applicable law in accordance with the values ​​of democracy and respect of EU fundamental rights are under the control of independent and impartial courts”.

Criticism of possible violations of the rule of law has long focused on Hungary and Poland. Poland has been accused of undermining the separation of powers in its own country and an independent judiciary through the so-called judicial reform.

ECJ rejects complaints

In order to prevent EU action, both countries had filed a lawsuit against the rule of law mechanism with the European Court of Justice – but without success. The court dismissed the lawsuits and with its judgment in February of this year legitimized the option of cutting financial resources for affected EU members.

Majority required in the EU Parliament

But it will still be some time before Hungary could actually be canceled billions of euros. Because this step requires a majority in the EU Parliament: at least 15 countries with at least 65 percent of the population living in the EU must vote in favor of it. As the state concerned, Hungary is not entitled to vote in the vote.

Before that, however, Hungary has the opportunity to comment on the points of criticism and to propose measures to eliminate what the EU believes are the shortcomings.

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