The Court of Justice of the European Union has said the regulation accepted by the European Parliament and Council on making EU funding conditional on adhering to principles of the rule of law was built on a sound legal footing, rejecting actions brought against the regulation by Hungary and Poland.
According to MTI, the decree is “compatible with the procedure laid down in Article 7 TEU and respects in particular the limits of the powers conferred on the European Union and the principle of legal certainty,” according to the Wednesday decision based on an expedited procedure.
Poland and Hungary turned to the CJEU last March, saying the “conditionality clause” lacked sufficient legal basis, overstepped the limits of the EU’s competency, aimed at circumventing the Article 7 procedure and was in violation of the principle of legal certainty.
In its reasoning, the CJEU noted that the procedure laid down in the resolution can be launched only when the breaches in question “affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget or the protection of the financial interests of the Union”. The regulation aims to protect the EU’s budget from harm incurred by breaches to the principle, and not at the protection of the principle itself, the CJEU said.
Justice Minister Judit Varga said in a Facebook post that the EU Court of Justice’s Wednesday decision “proves that Brussels is abusing its power … it is another way of putting pressure on Hungary for the amendments to its child protection law accepted last summer”, which the EU has called discriminative against the LGBTQ community.
Gergely Gulyás, Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, warned against “giving too much importance to” Wednesday’s ruling, adding that the ruling would only hurt Hungary if the opposition won the April 3 general election. Gulyás said he did not expect the EU to sanction Hungary if ruling Fidesz won the election, adding, however, that he believed sanctions could be expected if a new government attempted to amend the constitution with a simple parliamentary majority. Asked how much the legal fees in the rule-of-law conditionality lawsuit would cost Hungary if it were forced to pay them, Gulyás said he could not provide an exact figure, but the cost would be “a negligible amount”. He said the CJEU’s ruling made it clear that the application of the conditionality mechanism was only lawful if the violation of the principle of the rule of law directly impacted the bloc’s financial interests. “And Hungary has been one of the best performing countries in the European Union in this regard, and it has been scrutinised with a magnifying glass for years,” he said.
Hungary will never object to demands for judicial independence by the EU, because that is a part of the rule of law, Gulyás said. “But the question of whether two men should be allowed to get married does not fall under the rule of law, and every member states is free to decide on such an issue,” he argued. “We don’t allow that in Hungary and if someone wants to change that, they have to be Hungarian, they must win the necessary political support for it in Hungary and change the constitution if they have the majority required for it,” he said.
Photo credit: MTI