For inaction: EU Parliament sued the Commission

Status: October 29, 2021 4:18 p.m.

So far, the EU Commission has been reluctant to punish legal violations by Poland and Hungary. The EU Parliament is now putting pressure on the matter and has filed a lawsuit against the authority. Words must be followed by deeds, said EU Parliament President Sassoli.

The European Parliament is suing the EU Commission before the European Court of Justice because it has not yet applied a new regulation for punishing violations of the rule of law in EU countries. A spokeswoman said that the Parliament’s legal service submitted the complaint to the Court of Justice at the request of President David Sassoli. The procedure is almost unique: So far, the European Parliament has first sued the EU Commission before the ECJ.

It is expected that the EU Commission will act consistently and implement what Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said in the recent plenary debate on the rule of law, said Sassoli. “Words must be followed by deeds.”

Trial is pending

The background to this is the EU rule of law mechanism, which has been in force since the beginning of the year. It provides that EU countries can reduce funds from the joint budget if there is a risk of the money being misused because of violations of the rule of law. The governments in Hungary and Poland fear that the new procedure will primarily be used against them. You have therefore brought an action against the regulation at the ECJ. This procedure is still ongoing.

The EU Commission actually only wanted to take action when the ECJ had decided on the lawsuits. It also provides for an agreement between the heads of state and government. With it, the governments in Budapest and Warsaw were persuaded last year to give up their blockade of important EU budget decisions.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had spoken out in favor of waiting for the ECJ decision. At the end of last week, after an EU summit, Von der Leyen made it clear that she would follow this line. You want to wait for the judge’s verdict and consider possible consequences, she said.

Influencing the judiciary

The European Parliament had already decided in June to start the procedure for the so-called failure to act against the EU Commission and thus to put pressure on von Leyens authority. In mid-October, the responsible legal committee then voted to actually file the lawsuit. A little later, Sassoli commissioned the legal service to prepare the lawsuit.

Critics accuse both the Hungarian and Polish governments of influencing the judiciary contrary to EU standards. They also see a threat to the EU budget because, as a rule, national law enforcement authorities and courts are responsible for investigating possible misuse of EU funds.

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