In the area of justice, Hungary must also meet a number of conditions to receive the EU funds it is entitled to, the Czech vice-president of the European Commission said.
Hungary must bolster the independence of its judiciary “very soon” to stand a realistic chance of getting any of the 15.4 billion euros envisaged for Budapest from the EU’s recovery funds, according to Reuters.
“They will have to adopt laws, which will strengthen the position of the judges, which will strengthen the anti-corruption actions,” Vera Jourová, the Commission’s Vice-President for Values and Transparency said after a Hungarian delegation held talks in Brussels on Friday.
These are very concrete things which the Hungarian government has promised to correct or install very soon… time works against them,”
the Czech official noted, adding that “European taxpayers do not want their money to go to places where there is no respect for rule of law, where life is very difficult for the LGBT people or other minorities,” Jourová said.
In order to receive the above-mentioned funds, Hungary must meet more than twenty conditions. The judiciary, public procurement, and corruption are among the areas where the European Commission wants to see reforms.
The fact that the ever increasing list of demands from the EC comes at the same time as a major corruption scandal in Brussels is unfolding, puts Jourová’s threats in a particular light. In the words of Fidesz MEP Balázs Hidvéghi, a textbook example of corruption is the bribery of EU officials by third countries – Qatar, Morocco – to serve their own interests. Moreover, it was not the self-correction of the EU institutions that started the process of accountability, it was not the European Parliament that acted first, but the Belgian authorities – as Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has pointed out to the EP.
They are looking for nits to pick out of Hungary’s rule of law, while a police van is on permanent standby at the European Parliament building,”
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his state of the nation speech on Saturday. “In reality, it is the member states that should be monitoring Brussels, not Brussels monitoring the member states,” he added.
In light of the criticisms of democracy in Hungary, it is also worth reflecting on the fact that the 2018 Article 7 procedure started with bending the EU’s own rules. In the European Parliament vote on Judith Sargentini’s report, abstentions were not taken into account, then the EU Court of Justice sat on the issue for years, finally declaring by a peculiar logic that someone who abstains in a vote has the same intention as someone who does not vote at all. Following this logic, the institution of abstention, one could argue, should not exist at all.
Featured photo via the European Commission