Daniel Freund

4. June 2021 Anti-Corruption

Lawsuit against EU Commission for failure to act on rule of law: Von der Leyen must fight on Parliament’s side for the rule of law

The European Parliament will start legal proceedings against the EU Commission before the European Court of Justice. The pro-European groups in the European Parliament agreed today (Friday) on a resolution in this regard, which will be voted in plenary next week. With this resolution, Parliament is reacting to the Commission’s failure to use the rule of law mechanism. The respective deadline to do so expired on June 1st. Despite the rule of law mechanism entering into force on January 1st, the Commission has still not taken any steps to initiate sanctions for serious violations of the rule of law. In said resolution, the European Parliament points out that this constitutes a “failure to act” by the EU Commission under Article 265 of the TFEU. A parliamentary majority in favour of the resolution next week is expected. This would constitute the first step in taking the Commission to Court.

Daniel Freund, Green negotiator for the rule of law mechanism in the Budgetary Control Committee comments:

“The EU Commission has so far not been serious about protecting the rule of law in Europe. This cannot wait. Facts are being created in Poland and Hungary every day. Viktor Orban cannot be allowed to turn Hungary into a dictatorship without facing any sanctions. We have an effective sanctions mechanism in place that is simply not being used. The European Parliament has given the Commission a clear deadline of June 1st. The Commission let it expire. This is not acceptable for us. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen must now decide: Either she fights with us for the rule of law – or she gives in to pressure from Poland and Hungary and continues to do nothing. It is now up to the Commission to avoid full confrontation and finally bring rule of law sanctions on the way.”


“Every minute that passes without the rule of law mechanism being triggered is an election campaign gift for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban. In recent years, he has transformed Hungary into an autocracy and distributed EU funds to his trusted oligarchs. If the EU Commission does not act now, the decline of democracy and of the rule of law will continue to go unchecked. If Viktor Orban is allowed to get away unpunished, the Commission will turn into an autocrat’s campaigner and encourage imitators.”

Background – paragraph from the resolution initiating the procedure for failure to act

  1. Regrets the Commission’s failure to respond to the requests of the Parliament by 1 June 2021 and to activate the procedure laid down in the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation in the most obvious cases of the breaches of the Rule of Law in the EU; instructs its President to call on the Commission within two weeks from the date of adoption of this resolution at the latest, on the basis of Article 265 of the TFEU to fulfill its obligations under this Regulation; to be prepared, the Parliament shall in the meantime immediately start the necessary preparations for potential court proceedings under Article 265 of TFEU against the Commission.