Monday, February 26

Von der Leyen Persists: The Rule of Law Test in the Fall

The European Commission will be introducing new rules against countries that violate the rule of law for the first time this autumn, she assures. Even if the European Parliament is not moving fast enough.


With the new rule of law test, the committee can cut EU funds for member states where, for example, judges can no longer do their work independently—provided that these abuses pose a danger to the correct use of the money. Hungary and Poland still strongly oppose the new rules. In December, when they were adopted, they negotiated that the commission would only start working on it after the European Court of Justice has ruled on it. That will happen next fall at the earliest.

The European Parliament is now threatening to go to the same Luxembourg court to force the committee to act earlier. The parliament fears that, for example, it will take a long time before Hungary is tackled, and Hungarian voters will not experience any consequences of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s policy before they have to go to the polls. However, before the court can rule on the parliament’s demand, the other case is most likely already completed, according to a spokesperson for the court.

“I know how important this point is for you in Parliament and for us, the committee,” committee chair Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament on Wednesday. Pending the court’s verdict, “our officials are investigating all facts that may be relevant to upcoming proceedings,” she assured. “We will start the first files in the fall. No case will be lost.”

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