MEPs have voted that if the European Commission does not initiate its rule of law procedure against Hungary and Poland, the European Parliament will take the Commission to court. David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, has two weeks to call on the Commission to “fulfill its obligations” under the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation.
With 506 votes to 150 and 28 abstentions, the European Parliament has agreed that the new conditionality instrument to protect the use of EU funds must be respected. Since the European Commission has not proposed any measures under the new rules and has missed the deadline to finalize the guidelines of the application of the Regulation, it faces potential legal action.
According to the MEPs supporting the instruction, the risk of misuse of the EU budget has grown and rule of law is deteriorating. While President Sassoli calls on the commission, the parliament will begin preparations “for potential court proceedings under Article 265 of TFEU against the Commission.”
What MEPs specifically want is for the European Commission to address the rule of law violations by Hungary and Poland, which jeopardize the “fair, legal and impartial distribution of EU funds.”
The European Parliament instructs the Commission to address attacks on media freedom, journalists, and freedom of association and assembly through the use of Article 7 in the EU Treaty, the EU rule of law framework and the infringement procedures.
Hungary has been in a conflict with the European Union on the rule of law since the Sargentini report was adopted in 2018 to determine the existence of its human rights violations. Along with Poland, it is the only nation which is currently subject to potential EU sanctions, as the Union seems to agree on the two countries’ violations of the fundamental rights and values of the European Union.
Hungary and Poland have previously tired to challenge the rule of law mechanism in the EU Court of Justice, but their attempts have been unsuccessful. Now it remains the Hungarian government’s position that it is ready for dialogue on rule of law issues, but continues to reject “the politically-motivated witch hunts.”
Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga has described the rule of law debate as hypocritical, saying that it primarily serves to enable the European Commission to pressure member states which have views that deviate from the mainstream.”
Featured photo illustration by Vivien Cher Benko/MTI/Prime Minister’s Press Office