Less than a day after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sent a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to suspend infringement procedures so that member states can concentrate on solving current crises, the EU has responded with a flat-out rejection.
In the letter, Orbán wrote this would be necessary because a new legal environment is needed in the migration situation at the Polish border. The request was also supported by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
“We must acknowledge that the current emergency must also be addressed through special measures. Our security and territorial integrity are at stake. Consequently, in this situation, the current legal framework needs to be adapted to reality and member states cannot be held accountable or penalized for applying workable, yet proportionate, solutions to the challenges we all face,” Orbán wrote.
However, the European Commission rejected the request. In a press conference in Strasbourg, the committee’s vice-chair, Margaritas Schinas, the commissioner for promoting the European way of life, said to journalists that these procedures have strict rules and cannot be abolished on political grounds.
“There is no political room for maneuver in infringement proceedings. These are strictly defined, rules-based processes. The only way to close such a procedure is to resolve the case on which it is based,” Schinas said, adding that “Infringement proceedings cannot be stopped for political reasons or by letters.”
According to the Hungarian government, the European Commission is using infringement proceedings against Budapest as a political weapon. Hungary’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, already told Euronews in 2015 that Hungary was being targeted when proceedings were initiated over a piece of legislation called the legal barrier.
“We are quite sure that the law complies with European values and legislation. That is why I see no reason to change it. We think it’s a kind of revenge from Brussels after we went to the European Court of Justice over the mandatory quotas. And now we’re suddenly being prosecuted. We understand that, but we don’t think there’s a legal basis for the infringement,” Szijjártó said at the time.