This much talked about “rule of law mechanism” is an infinitely simple thing. Anyone who does not obey the rules (for example, steals from the common wealth) is not automatically entitled to the benefits of the community. To put it in Orbanian terms: if you steal the horses, you can no longer eat at the communal Kipchak-Dakota campfire; if you kick another player in the shin, you will certainly get a card, no matter how passionately you complain to the referee. The penalty card will be red, not yellow.
This Wednesday, the Court of Justice of the European Union will deliver its ruling on the joint Polish-Hungarian petition against the European Union’s so-called rule of law mechanism, submitted by illiberal governments. It was this against which Orbán threatened to even vetoing the budget if need be, and although he has been blowing victory trumpets at home (he has been talking, in a most ridiculous way, about champagne that needs to be chilled), all he has really achieved is to buy some time: until the ruling this Wednesday. The content of the ruling is fairly predictable: on the one hand, Fidesz is already talking about political blackmail, Soros-conspiracy and foreign intervention, and on the other, the published stance of the Advocate General of the Court of Justice, which says that the adoption and launch of the rule of law mechanism is compatible with the Treaties in force and respects the principle of legal certainty.
If this is the decision of the required majority of the Judicial Council on Wednesday, it will, in simple terms, give the green light to the rule of law procedure. The question is, of course, whether the European Commission will have the balls and will be law-abiding enough to immediately start the proceedings against the governments of the Member States concerned, which have been delayed until now, or whether it will fall for the cowardly argument that such a move could be seen as interference in the few days left before the Hungarian elections. In fact, it will be interference if, despite the court ruling, they do nothing and just wait and see whether they have to discuss the shortcomings of the rule of law in Hungary and the fate of the total of some HUF 14 272 million that we are owed from the seven-year budget and the Recovery Fund with a strengthened or possibly weakened, Orbán or a new head of government, Péter Márki-Zay.
If the Court of Justice rejects the Polish-Hungarian petition, then the European Commission should, in my view, start the procedure as soon as possible, because that is its duty. The European Commission is well aware of the violence inflicted by the Orbán regime upon the Hungarian rule of law: a detailed list of this was sent to the Carmelite recently. If the Commission chooses to delay things, it will become a silent accomplice of Orbán.
The matter is infinitely simple. The Hungarian Government cannot access the EU funds due to our country and the Hungarian people for the time being because it cannot guarantee that they will be used fairly and transparently. There is no other reason than state level corruption, violation of the independence of the judiciary, and the trampling of the rule of law norms. It is an outright lie from the government representatives that the protest of some kind of new world order, some ideological war, the refugee lobby or the child-molesting gay lobby is behind all this, or perhaps all of these at the same time. You should know that anyone who tells you this is lying. Knowingly and maliciously, or simply out of primitive stupidity. Either way, on Wednesday, the Court of Justice of the European Union will make a decision that will have a fundamental impact on the life of Hungary. It will set something right that Orbán and his mates have violated. Because it is the right thing to do. Because if we are to move forward, we need something that is constant: fairness and justice. Without that, there is no forward or indeed upward.
dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
13 February 2022.