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EU Court poised to dismiss Hungary’s lawsuit on rule of law conditionality

December 4th, 2021

As it seems almost certain that the European Court of Justice will enable the European Union to make payments to member countries conditional on rule of law compliance, a pro-government commentator suspects a political design behind that scheme.

Hungary and Poland turned to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) earlier this year, challenging the decision to empower the European Union to suspend or reduce payments to member states which are found in breach of rule of law norms. They argued that under the treaties, rule of law sanctions against one particular member country must require unanimity among the rest of the member states, while the new procedure only requires a qualified majority. The Advocate General of the court has now issued his opinion that the procedure envisaged did not overwrite the Lisbon treaty because it only applies the principle of rule of law compliance to decisions and institutions strictly connected to the use of European funds. He therefore suggested the court to reject the claim by the two governments. Although the Advocate General’s opinion is not binding for the judges, in most cases the court follows the procedure proposed by its senior advisers. The ruling is expected within two months.

 In Magyar Nemzet, László Szőcs believes that the sanctions envisaged against Hungary and Poland are intended to bring the two countries’ governments down. He finds the choice of the Advocate General controversial because the same lawyer has already successfully advised the court to rule against the Hungarian government in a previous rule of law controversy. He takes it virtually for granted that, this time around as well, the court will follow the advice of the Advocate General. Szőcs is convinced that the real reason why the European institutions intend to punish Hungary and Poland is their stance against mass immigration and gender theory. Quoting British historian and columnist Timothy Garton Ash who suspects that the parliamentary election next April will not be free, Szőcs predicts that if the government is returned to power by the voters, the next accusation it will have to face will be that it tinkered with the election.


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