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MEPs threaten Commission with legal action

Shortly before the EU summit in December, the Commission released frozen funds to Hungary. EU parliamentarians from several political groups are criticizing this decision – and may want to take it to the European Court of Justice.

Several members of the European Parliament want to legally challenge the release of EU funds to Hungary. Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee should “as soon as possible take the necessary steps” for a lawsuit before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), according to a draft agreed on by representatives of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Greens and the Left in Strasbourg.

The initiators therefore express “serious concerns” about the EU Commission’s decision to release funds amounting to 10.2 billion euros to Viktor Orban’s government. Despite recent reforms, Hungary does not meet European standards for the independence of its judiciary.

Vote on resolution on Thursday

“This step by the European Parliament is the direct consequence of the dirty deal in December,” said Green MP Daniel Freund. The signal to von der Leyen is clear: “If she simply distributes billions of dollars to evade Hungary’s vetoes, she won’t get away with it.” The resolution is scheduled to be voted on in plenary on Thursday.

Funds from EU regional funding were frozen due to doubts about the rule of law in Hungary. Shortly before the EU summit in December, the Commission released around ten billion euros. The Brussels authorities justified this by saying that Hungary had met the necessary requirements. Other budget funds amounting to almost twelve billion euros as well as billions in Corona aid remain blocked so far.

Critics suspect a deal behind the release

However, there is no reliable evidence of the effectiveness of the reforms, according to the MEPs’ resolution. In the event that the Commission releases further funds without the conditions for this being met, Parliament would reserve the right to take further political and legal action. This could include, for example, a vote of no confidence, which if successful would require the Commission to resign. Such a step is already being called for by liberal politicians.

Critics suspected that the release of the funds shortly before the summit was a deal to persuade Orban to lift his veto against planned billions in aid for Ukraine. The right-wing populist head of government is accused of blackmailing the EU with his blockade.

The European Parliament can take the Commission to the ECJ if the MPs suspect a violation of the EU treaties. However, such a process could take months or years. The current EU Commission would probably no longer be in office if a ruling were made.

Andreas Meyer-Feist, ARD Brussels, currently Strasbourg, tagesschau, January 17, 2024 6:42 a.m

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