The European Commission's building in Brussels – Photo: wikipedia

Fidesz MEP: EC rule-of-law mechanism against Hungary 'punishment and pressure'

Top Court: No basis for EC objections to Hungarian judicial appointments

The European Commission's objections to how judges in Hungary are appointed -- raised within the rule-of-law mechanism launched against the country on Wednesday -- "is not a rule-of-law issue since it has nothing to do with reality," Hungary's top court, the Kuria said in a statement.

In the Hungarian judiciary, special appointments are issued if a court faces “temporary difficulties” due to unforeseen events or if it cannot provide other solutions to those difficulties, the statement said on Thursday.

Special appointments are always temporary, undertaken only by mutual agreement of the judge and both courts involved, and are often seen as an opportunity for a judge’s professional growth, the statement said.

Over the past few years, an increasing number of such appointments were made largely in connection with the coronavirus pandemic “which affected case-handling times and opportunities to employ new judges”, the court said. As soon as the pandemic allowed, the Kuria set about filling vacant positions and terminating special appointments, it said.

The court insisted that a growing number of applications for positions had prompted “independent” organisations to accuse the Kuria of overseeing a staff shake-up.

The last of the long-term special appointments are expected to be terminated this summer, the statement said.

Fidesz MEP: EC rule-of-law mechanism against Hungary ‘punishment and pressure’

The European Commission’s decision to activate the rule-of-law mechanism against Hungary serves to put pressure on and penalise its government for “daring to envision a conservative nation in Europe,” Andor Deli, an MEP of ruling Fidesz, said on Thursday.

Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for Budget and Administration, sent a notification letter to Hungary on Wednesday, activating the mechanism linking European Union funding to the rule of law. Vice-President Vera Jourova said in a tweet that the Commission had “identified issues that might be breaching [the rule of law] in HU and affect the EU budget.”

Deli told Hungarian journalists in Brussels that the mechanism “is difficult to understand from a legal or practical point of view”. European Union institutions “are talking about taking away money Hungary has yet to receive,” he said.

Weakening Hungary would enfeeble the EU itself, which draws its strength from that of its member states, Deli said. Undermining Hungary also undermines European unity, he added.

The European Parliament’s Committee Economic and Monetary Affairs on Thursday held a closed meeting with the Committee on Budgets and EC members to discuss implementation of the decree on the rule-of-law conditionality. In his address, Deli said the mechanism had been activated because “even in this situation riddled with economic difficulties and war, there are some who want to weaken the strength and unity of Europe.”

The fact that the funds being withdrawn from Hungary are yet to be paid “illustrates the absurdity of the whole procedure,” Deli said.

At the same time, the Hungarian government remains open to further talks in the hope of finding solutions to the EU’s concerns, he said. “Hungary will, however, not budge on two issues: we will stay out of the war and protect our children,” he said.

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