This week will be an important week, with the European Court of Justice expected to announce its ruling tomorrow on whether the European Union can issue sanctions for violations of the so-called rule of law.
Hungary and Poland challenged the regulation last March, arguing that it was incompatible with EU law, circumventing the EU’s founding treaties and violating the principle of legal certainty.
There is reason to believe that the court will dismiss the lawsuit. Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona at least took that position last December, and while his opinion is not binding on the judges’ panel, it is usually followed. In any case, recent years have taught us not to expect much from the EU’s institutions.
Blow to Hungary and Poland after top EU lawyer backs rule-of-law sanctions
The European Court of Justice signals its willingness to give the green light to the European Superstate
Before we know the verdict, it is worth lingering on a by no means incidental detail. Only eleven months have passed since the Hungarian-Polish lawsuit was filed. In the meantime, the European Court of Justice will have managed to rule on one of the most important and complex legal issues in the history of the European Union.
The experience of recent years has been that the reference to the rule of law is part of a toolkit to force member states who are critical of the liberal mainstream to comply. The goal is to sanctify — or who knows what word Brussels bureaucrats can use — the tool, so they really aren’t picky. After realizing the prospects of an Article 7 procedure, they want to hit the countries they consider reticent in their wallets.
Nothing justifies the cynicism of those in Brussels more than their ability to use the resources of a recovery fund to deal with the economic effects of the coronavirus as ideological blackmail. The European Commission is now openly committing to withholding funds due to the Hungarian child protection act. This was obvious — as negotiations were already underway on when Ursula von der Leyen would come to Budapest to announce the adoption of the Hungarian recovery plan — when the brakes were suddenly set at the same time the legislation was passed.
It would be a miracle for the European Court of Justice to surprise us tomorrow. It would be great, but we know the track EU institutions have been on for a long time.