Hungary Foreign Minister says EU is ‘slow’
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MEPs discovered from a leaked draft document by the EU Commission that Ursula von der Leyen’s team intends to propose that EU funds availability to member states is directly connected to the country’s ability to respect the rule of law.
The proposal, which would be welcomed by most groups in the European Parliament, lacks substantial details on its implementation and comes too late after multiple warnings by MEPs to the EU executive to act against those who do not follow the rules of the Treaties.
Moreover, both Hungary and Poland are challenging the regulation at the EU’s top court levels.
But the hearing on the matter is not scheduled until October.
The draft document infuriated many in Brussels, including Belgian MEP and staunch europhile Guy Verhofstadt.
Responding to concerns voiced by MEPs, a Commission official said that this is the time for Parliament to voice its concerns.
They told Politico: “We have consulted the Parliament and Council exactly to hear their views and comments.
“This is a good moment to channel anger or frustration.”
But Mr Verhofstadt blasted: “This is not about ‘channeling anger or frustration’.
“It is about applying EU law that safeguards proper use of EU funds and rights and values enshrined in EU Treaties.
“If this EU Commission refuses to play that role, what is it good for?”
German MEP Moritz Körner of the centrist Renew Europe group, accused the Commission of using a “delaying tactic”, adding the proposal was “a lot of hot air”.
German MEP Daniel Freud echoed his fellow citizen saying the document “confirms the delaying tactics of the Commission,”
He added: “There is pretty much no substance in these guidelines,” he added, arguing it’s a “complete mystery how this took six months.”
Brussels has been locked in an ongoing dispute with Hungary and Poland over controversial legal reforms, which the EU claims endanger judicial independence.
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The bloc has consequently launched proceedings in accordance with Article 7 of the EU’s constitution, which could theoretically see both sides lose their European Council voting rights unless they back down.
Both Poland, led by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, of the Law and Justice Party, and Hungary, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, of Fidesz, have long argued Brussels is attempting to punish both nations for having elected right-of-centre governments.
Last week, European Parliament vice-President Katarina Barley scolded the Commission over its inaction against the two countries.
Hitting out at Ms von der Leyen’s reluctance to act firmly against the deteriorating state of Poland and Hungary’s judicial systems, Ms Barley said time was pressing to save the EU.
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She warned: “We observe that, in general, the Commission does not act quickly enough and not consistently enough when it comes to violations of the rule of law.
“The most obvious example: the actions of the so-called disciplinary chambers in Poland.
“They can punish judges and public prosecutors or even dismiss them. The European Court of Justice already ruled in April 2019 that these chambers are not allowed to ‘discipline’. But despite strong pressure from Parliament, the Commission initially did nothing for a long time.
“And when they did react recently, it consisted of a new letter to the Polish government requesting a statement.
“There was not even a threat of financial sanctions, which would have been possible without further ado.”
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