Rule of law

The EU is trying to bring Hungary to heel

If there was a word in Euro-speak for ‘Move on, nothing to see here,’ the EU would undoubtedly have used it in its announcement yesterday about Hungary. Brussels has formally notified Budapest that it is invoking the so-called ‘conditionality mechanism’ against it, meaning a supermajority within the EU can vote to withhold funds from a member state where there is a threat to the rule of law coupled with direct effects on the sound financial management of the EU budget or other EU financial interests. The notification itself has not been publicised; but everything, the EU says, is in order. A letter was sent last November outlining allegations of graft,

Hungary’s ‘patriotic fight’ with the EU: an interview with justice minister Judit Varga

Budapest is racked with tension. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sends a stream of refugees to Hungary’s eastern border, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has scrambled to respond to the humanitarian crisis while turning his back on his previous pragmatic relationship with Moscow. Fidesz’s unequivocal condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s actions will have come as a relief to Brussels. But a bitter argument still rages over Hungary’s opposition to the bloc’s new ‘rule of law’ budget mechanism, which allows EU funds to be made dependent on adherence to legal and democratic norms. When the European Court of Justice rejected a challenge to the mechanism from Hungary and Poland on February 16, Hungary’s

The EU’s menacing rule of law power grab

Officially the European Union may be a union of sovereign states. But its Commission increasingly has the air of an imperial chancellery, or perhaps the headquarters of some vast conglomerate giving instructions to the directors of its far-flung subsidiaries. The Commission’s annual Rule of Law report, published last week, is a case in point. It is well worth reading if you want to understand the EU mindset. Nominally a report to the European parliament and a number of central institutions, essentially it is a 30-page memo reminding the EU27 that the rule of law is part of the EU brand — and ordering member states to uphold it without any