Europe: Brussels asks Hungary and Poland for decisive steps to comply with European values ​​| International

The European Commission continues to closely monitor Hungary and Poland for their continued breaches of judicial independence, corruption linked to power elites and attacks on civil society, especially the LGBTIQ community, according to the latest report on the rule of law in the European Union, published this Wednesday. The document, which covers the 27 member states and contains ammunition against all the capitals of the EU, shoots with greater intensity against Budapest and Warsaw, capitals with which Brussels has maintained a tense relationship for years due to their serious breaches of central values ​​of the EU, its anti-democratic drift and its questioning of the community legal order.

To Poland, in particular, Brussels reminds him of the need to “address the serious concerns related to judicial independence” and “the obligation to comply with the rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU […] and infringement procedures related to the Rule of Law”, as well as refreshing your memory regarding the demands on the reform of the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court, included among the milestones of the recovery and resilience plan, recently approved after more a year in the air.

Hungary, against which the Commission activated in April the so-called conditionality mechanism, a tool to safeguard European funds from non-compliers in matters of European securities, demands that it establish “a solid record of investigations, prosecutions and final sentences in cases of high-level corruption”, which guarantees “the independence and effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions”, in addition to addressing “the wide scope of the immunities of senior officials” and demanding that it refrain from introducing “impunity clauses in the legislation”. It also demands that it reinforce the rules on lobbies and mechanisms for greater transparency “in the declarations of assets of public officials and deputies.” And it shows a special concern for the context in which the media operates.

Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Securities and one of the hands behind the report, assured yesterday in a meeting with journalists that the document tries to “cover a whole series of issues in all the Member States”, and not only in Hungary and Poland, despite the fact that these two are the countries often in the trigger. “I think there is something in every family,” she added, “there is always something that can be improved in every Member State.”

The report covers four key areas in which EU values ​​play out: the independence of judicial systems, the anti-corruption framework, press freedom and institutional checks and balances. This third edition is the first that also includes specific recommendations to the Member States, whose objective is to “support […] efforts to carry out ongoing or planned reforms” and “help them identify where improvements may be needed,” in the words of the report.

One of the central concerns of the document is related to the Councils of the Judiciary in several Member States, including Spain, where “concern persists about the delays in the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary and there has been another request that it be modified the system of appointment of the Council”.

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.


This section, in any case, places Poland and Hungary in a notably prominent place, in the crosshairs of the EU Executive arm for years and where, according to the document, they are two countries in which “there have been no addressed structural or systemic problems. In Poland, the document explains, “serious concerns about the independence of the National Council of the Judiciary” remain unaddressed, despite the fact that these have been raised in several judgments of the EU Court of Justice and the European Court of Justice. Human rights.

Brussels’ concern has been shown in a long tug-of-war, dating back to 2017, with the activation of article 7 of the Lisbon treaty, the so-called EU nuclear button, which allows the voting rights of member states to be suspended for its serious breaches of rights and freedoms. This procedure, in any case, has been stalled in the Council of the EU (the body that represents the governments of the 27) due to the high majority it requires and due to Warsaw’s ability to make a duet defense with Hungary, the other wayward brother: the partner against whom the European Parliament also asked to activate the same article 7 procedure in 2018.

In Budapest, the Commission’s communication points out, “the National Council of the Judiciary continues to have difficulties in counteracting the powers of the National Office of the President of the Judiciary with regard to the management of the courts”. The text recalls that “the method of appointing judges can have a key impact on judicial independence and on the public perception of independence” and indicates that in order to guarantee judicial independence, the procedures that govern judicial appointments “must be sufficient to avoid reasonable doubts about the impermeability of the judges with respect to external factors and about their neutrality”.

If in Poland, the “specific appointments of the Supreme Court” that are the object of key rulings of the European justice are of concern, in Hungary, the focus is placed on “the possibility of making discretionary decisions in matters of judicial appointments and promotions, including the election of the President of the Supreme Court, the allocation of cases and premiums”.

The document recalls that Warsaw promised in June to reform the disciplinary regime of judges, whose use to undermine the independence of the judiciary is at the center of the fight with Brussels; In exchange, the European Commission gave its approval to Poland’s recovery plan, more than a year after the Eastern country submitted its application to receive the multimillion-dollar European funds destined to fight against the blow of the pandemic. Among the milestones of the recovery plan is a precise schedule to dismantle the disciplinary chamber of the Polish Supreme Court, which in theory should have been undertaken before July (at the moment the Commission is assessing whether the reforms proposed by Warsaw actually comply with what is stipulated”. But Brussels denounces that, for the time being, and despite the rulings of the CJEU, “the disciplinary chamber [del Supremo polaco] continued to decide on cases related to the judges, even suspending them from office.”

Brussels activated this spring for the first time the so-called conditionality mechanism to protect European funds and it did so precisely against Hungary for matters related to corruption, as announced by the President of the Community Executive, Ursula von der Leyen, in an appearance at the Parliament in April. But this wound remains unhealed in the country, according to the report: “Some new cases of high-level corruption have been opened,” denounces the text, “but the lack of a solid record of investigations, prosecutions and final sentences of accusations of corruption affecting high-level officials and their inner circle remains a serious concern”. In this tug-of-war, Hungary continues to negotiate with the EU Executive the approval of its recovery plan against the blow of the covid, something that Brussels continues to resist precisely because of its breaches in this field.

In addition, the report denounces the worsening of the situation for civil society, with “a possible intimidating effect.” In Poland, he notes, “civic space has further deteriorated and a recent bill could have an additional negative impact.” In Hungary, he adds, “independent civil society remains under pressure and organizations representing the LGBTIQ community report having been the target of smear campaigns launched by the government, while the role of the state in financing civil society raises Doubts”.

Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.

50% off

Exclusive content for subscribers

read without limits

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button