In open conflict with Brussels, Hungary and Poland are contesting Monday, October 11 before the EU justice a new mechanism that risks depriving them of European funding, in a climate exacerbated by the controversial decision of the Polish Constitutional Court.
Brought before the Luxembourg Court on several occasions for breaches of the rule of law, Budapest and Warsaw are this time the initiators of the appeal against the European institutions.
See also "Seen from elsewhere" N ° 28 - The European rule of law put to the test of Hungary
Paradoxically, the hearing is held a few days after a judgment by the highest Polish court - close to the conservative nationalist party in power in this country - in the form of a declaration of war on the primacy of European law and on the competence of the Court of Justice of the EU.
A recent and still unused mechanism
The device disputed by the two countries is unprecedented. It makes it possible to suspend or reduce the payment of European funds to a State in the event of violations of the principles of the rule of law (insufficient fight against conflicts of interest, lack of independence of the judiciary, etc.) which undermine or risking harm to the financial interests of the EU. The result of a difficult compromise during the adoption of the long-term budget of the EU at the end of 2020 and long demanded by the “
” countries, the Netherlands in mind, this “
” has still not been implemented. not been used.
Warsaw and Budapest, which are among the countries potentially threatened by such a procedure because of their recurring disputes with the EU over the rule of law, appealed to the European Court of Justice in March to have it annulled. Member States agreed in December to await the Court's opinion on this mechanism before the European Commission resorted to it. But MEPs denounce this postponement and threaten to sue the Commission if it does not quickly initiate this procedure, which comprises several stages and will have to be validated by the Member States by a qualified majority before possibly resulting in a sanction (suspension or reduction funds). Under this parliamentary pressure, the Commission could launch the first stage in the coming weeks,according to European sources.
Stimulus plans still blocked
The CJEU's decision on the Polish-Hungarian appeal, examined in a hearing that opens for two days on Monday afternoon, is not expected to be delivered for several months.
MEPs again urged the EU executive on Friday to act against Poland, in retaliation to the unprecedented decision of the constitutional court which ruled certain articles of the EU treaties incompatible with the national constitution.
The historic shutdown sparked “
and prompted tens of thousands of Poles to show their support for their country's EU membership on Sunday.
To challenge the legality of the conditionality mechanism, Poland argues that it amounts de facto to a modification of the treaties and does not contain the necessary guarantees of objectivity and impartiality.
Hungary considers in particular that the behavior and situations liable to be penalized are not defined precisely enough and create legal uncertainty.
The two countries also see the validation of their respective recovery plans blocked by the same rule of law issues.
And the recent thunderclap provoked by the Polish court risks further delaying the approval of the Warsaw one (providing for 23.9 billion in European subsidies and 12.1 billion in loans).