The Hungarian Helsinki Committee welcomes today’s ruling by the CJEU, which is an important victory for the rule of law and EU citizens.
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After today’s EU Court of Justice ruling, which found the EU conditionality mechanism to be in line with EU law, nothing should stop the European Commission from finally triggering the conditionality mechanism. This tool can not only deter governments from diverting EU funds for their own benefit, but is also meant to protect the EU budget and ultimately EU citizens from governments weakening national institutions whose mandate is to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.
Today’s ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has rejected the Hungarian and Polish governments’ applications for the annulment of the conditionality regulation and ruled that it had been properly adopted and is not contrary to EU law. The CJEU also rejected the argument that the conditionality mechanism is an attempt to circumvent the Article 7 procedure, which is otherwise being pursued against the Hungarian and Polish governments, in order to impose possible financial sanctions. The Court also dismissed the two governments’ third claim that the procedure infringes legal certainty.
The conditionality mechanism makes the use of EU funds subject to fundamental rule of law safeguards such as the independence of the judiciary, the effectiveness of investigative authorities, accountability and transparency of the authorities managing EU funds. Failure to meet these conditions in a Member State could ultimately lead to the suspension of EU funds.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has always taken the strong view that weakening the rule of law contributes to strengthening systemic corruption and impunity in Hungary. In a state governed by the rule of law with strong anti-corruption safeguards, corrupt politicians and businessmen are impeded from abusing public funds, and everyone has the possibility to effectively challenge unlawful decisions by the authorities. In autocracies, on the other hand, there are no strong barriers to corruption and citizens remain vulnerable to arbitrary acts of power.