EU Watch

President von der Leyen Should Step On The Gas: Liberties

Press release

by LibertiesEU

The Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) welcomes the ruling of the EU Court of Justice upholding the mechanism opposed by Poland and Hungary that would stop the flow of EU funds to countries systematically breaching the rule of law and calls on the European Commission to trigger the mechanism with no delay.

In her statement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said about the CJEU ruling that ‘today's judgments confirm that we are on the right track.’

Balazs Denes, executive director at Liberties, said:

“We suggest that the President should step on the gas and we call on the Commission to trigger the mechanism with no delay. The EU now has an effective tool against authoritarians, who haven’t been moved by legal cases or political pressure before, but are now scared by the prospect of losing EU money. We’ve seen this from the way Poland and Hungary have opposed the mechanism and how Poland has shown signs it may back down over recent attacks on its courts.

In 2018 Liberties published a proposal for the conditionality mechanism which inspired the law that was eventually adopted, but we advocated earlier that the European Commission has legal grounds to cut off EU funding.

Systematic breaches on the rule of law were reported in both countries in the Liberties Rule of Law Report 2022, published yesterday. In Poland, key concerns are the growing political influence on the justice system, severe restrictions on journalists’ work by emergency powers, smear campaigns targeting LGBTQI+ and women’s rights NGOs or the government challenging the rule of law principles and the European legal order. In Hungary, growing political influence on the justice system, high-level corruption, misuse of EU funds, lack of media pluralism, power grab through emergency powers, crackdown on NGOs and homophobic propaganda have been reported as main concerns.

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