EU Rule of Law Report: Reports won’t fix the rule of law crisis
Today (Wednesday) the European Commission published its third Rule of Law Report. The annual report analyzes the state of the rule of law in all 27 EU Member States. For the first time, it also includes specific recommendations for each Member State. However, there are no immediate consequences should these not be met.
Daniel Freund, Green rapporteur for the rule of law mechanism in the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee (CONT), comments:
“For the third time in a row, the EU Commission is handing out Rule of Law score cards. For the third time in a row, Poland and Hungary have failed. By now, it is well known how broken democracy and the rule of law are in both countries. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen must finally act. We will not solve the rule of law problem in the EU if she merely keeps on writing reports. Rule of law violations must be sanctioned financially. There must be no payments of EU funds until the rule of law is functioning again. It is completely unacceptable that in this situation, EU funds continue to flow and that Von der Leyen is now even considering releasing additional payments to Poland. There is only one correct response to the rule of law violations in Hungary: 100% suspension of EU funds.”
The Commission’s report once again documents grave violations of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland – as it has in the past two years. However, instead of clear words, it uses an unusually restrained language:
- According to the Commission, the independent control mechanisms for detecting corruption are “insufficient” (p. 1). This wording fails to recognize that independent control mechanisms in the country are not just simply inadequate, but virtually non-existent. Neither the public prosecutor’s office nor the judiciary, the public procurement system nor the audit office are independent.
- While according to the Commission there are “risks” of clientelism, favouritism and nepotism in the Hungarian high-level public administration, the Budapest-based Corruption Research Centre reported that between 2011 and 2021, 42 companies owned by politically connected owners won a net 21% of EU-funded contracts. Clearly, nepotism ceased to be a “risk” but has long since become a reality in Hungary.
- The Commission notes that the Hungarian government “has been using its emergency powers extensively” (p. 1) while in fact, Hungary has been in a state of emergency since 2015 and the government has effectively rendered the ordinary legislative process superfluous. Orban rules by decree.
- According to the Commission’s report, “serious concerns” (p.1) remain about the independence of the Polish judiciary. This is yet another euphemism in light of the fact that, according to a study by the risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, Poland in recent years has experienced the sharpest decline in judicial independence worldwide.
- The Commission acknowledges that the Polish government has committed to abolish the politically appointed disciplinary chamber, reinstate unlawfully dismissed judges and reform the disciplinary regime for judges. No mention is made of the fact that the government only recently passed a law on this which however only contains sham reforms.
You’ll find the rule of law report under this link:
For the third time in a row, the EU Commission is handing out Rule of Law score cards. For the third time in a row, Poland and Hungary have failed.