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In a threat to the EU Commission chief, MEPs issued a “warning shot” to Ursula von der Leyen in regards to the inaction over rule of law proceedings against Hungary and Poland. Despite a motion passed concerning rule of law proceedings against the two last year, MEPs have now issued a deadline to Ms von der Leyen to take action or they may take the matter to the European Court of Justice. In a further attack against the Commission, MEPs claimed the EU has failed to take action against either state and now must do so before June 1.
A broad spectrum of groups within the Parliament has now claimed they will not “hesitate” to take action if Ms von der Leyen does not confront the issue, RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland reports.
Vice-President of Parliament, Katarina Barley, said: “This is a warning shot to the EU Commission.
“Parliament is now giving the Commission an ultimatum and will not hesitate to take them to the European Court of Justice for their inaction if necessary.
“The damage done to the rule of law and these courageous people and their families is irreparable.”
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Last year, following negotiations over the £1.5trillion coronavirus budget, the EU Commission adopted a rule of law mechanism for the first time in the history of the bloc.
Under this, a state which threatens the independence of the judiciary or attempts to control the media, may have their EU funding withdrawn.
Ms von der Leyen has, however, delayed a decision until the European Court of Justice has decided on complaints put forward by Hungary and Poland.
Throughout negotiations over the EU’s coronavirus recovery fund, both Poland and Hungary had threatened to vote against the budget if it contained clauses concerning the rule of law proceedings.
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The package was approved, however, before both submitted complaints to the EU Court of Justice over the link to funding.
The challenge means the new funding rule may be delayed by up to two years before being completely implemented.
Announcing the challenge, Hungary’s justice minister Judit Varga said: “The Left went too far when it launched an attack on Hungary in the middle of the pandemic.
“We can’t keep that EU legislation in force, which seriously infringes legal certainty, thus, as we promised last year, we are challenging the rule on conditionality before the Court of Justice of the EU, together with Poland.”
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The Polish government also added: “The EU has no competence to define the concept of ‘the rule of law’ or to lay down the conditions for assessing compliance with underlying principles.”
The EU has accused both Poland and Hungary of violating the principles of the EU over the reforms to the judiciary and actions against the media.
In particular, the Commission claimed both states had violated Article 7 of the Treaty of Europe which states all members must respect the common values of the EU.
Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban has been a staunch critic of the EU and has rejected any accusation the state has violated the principles of Europe.
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Indeed, Mr Orban’s criticism of the EU has only intensified throughout the pandemic as many EU states struggle to cope with a new wave of the virus.
With the UK leaving the bloc, Mr Orban also criticised how the EU had treated Britain.
Commenting on how Brexit could have been avoided, he said: “I’ll give an example: when the British prime minister wanted someone other than Jean-Claude Juncker to be the President of the European Commission, the majority voted against that wish.
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“You can’t behave like that with one of the world’s largest economies, a nuclear power and a member of the Security Council.
“Was it worth it?”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.