EU Parliament’s negotiators: Hungarian reform efforts insufficient to protect rule of law
The European Parliament’s rule of law negotiators today presented their assessment of the 17 remedial measures agreed between Commission and Hungarian government in the framework of the rule of law conditionality procedure. Their conclusion: The measures are neither adequate to remedy the rule of deficiencies in Hungary, nor have they been implemented in a way that would allow assessing their effectiveness on the ground at this moment.
Petri Sarvamaa (EPP), Eider Gardiazabal (S&D), Moritz Körner (Renew) and Daniel Freund (Greens/EFA) comment:
“For more than a decade, the Hungarian government under Prime Minister Viktor Orban has systematically undermined democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. It has cracked down on the independence of judiciary, media freedom and the rights of minorities. This led the EU Parliament to determine in September 2022 that Hungary is no longer a functioning democracy.
When the Rule of Law Conditionality procedure was initiated against the Hungarian government at the end of April, the Commission chose not to make use of the full scope of this instrument. The Commission decided not to address the rule of law shortcomings with this rule of law conditionality procedure. Instead, the 17 measures agreed between the Commission and the Hungarian government focus exclusively on public procurement and the fight against corruption. None of the measures is aimed at effectively restoring the independence of the judiciary or the public prosecution.
We as European Parliament’s rule of law negotiators from EPP, S&D, Renew and the Greens/EFA groups have assessed the 17 measures. Our conclusion: The remedial measures do not seem to be adequate to remedy the limited set of deficiencies that the Commission chose to address in the conditionality procedure. Even their full implementation would not erase breaches of the rule of law affecting or seriously risking to affect the sound financial management of the EU budget in Hungary. Even if all 17 remedial measures were implemented by November 19, many need a longer term monitoring to be effective, as the Commission itself indicates. Therefore, we expect the Commission to ardently keep monitoring the implementation of the 17 measures and to duly inform the European Parliament and Council.
Given our assessment we expect the Commission to maintain that the risk is still there in its assessment. We further expect the Commission to maintain the need for remedial measures in a way that clears the way for the Council to approve by qualified majority the Commission proposal of September 18 for a Council implementing decision on measures for the protection of the Union budget against breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary.”
You can find the detailed assessment of Parliament’s negotiation team here: https://danielfreund.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/EU-Parliaments-negotiation-team_-Assessment-of-17-Hungarian-remedial-measures.pdf
What are the next steps in the conditionality procedure?
By 19 November (Saturday), the Hungarian government needs to report back to the EU Commission on the implementation of the 17 remedial measures that were agreed in the framework of the conditionality procedure. The Commission will subsequently assess to what extent the measures have been implemented and adopt it, potentially along with an updated proposal to suspend funding, at one of the Commission College meetings in November (Tue, 22 Nov or Wed, 30 Nov). Should the Commission conclude that all measures have been fully implemented and a risk to the EU budget no longer exists, they could also withdraw their proposal to suspend 7.5 billion at one of the College meetings, thereby ending the procedure.
Unless the procedure is withdrawn by the Commission, the Council officially has until 19 December to vote on the Commission proposal to suspend funds to Hungary. The vote is currently scheduled to take place at the ECOFIN Council on 6 December, along with the decision to approve the Hungarian recovery and resilience plan.
The remedial measures do not seem to be adequate to remedy the limited set of deficiencies that the Commission chose to address in the conditionality procedure.