Gonçalo Martins de Matos (Master in Judiciary Law by the University of Minho)
When the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered, at the beginning of the last year, the two landmark judgements Hungary v. Parliament and Council (Case C-156/21) and Poland v. Parliament and Council (Case C-157/21), the conditionality mechanism created by Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 for the protection of the Union’s budget definitely gained the green light for its implementation, in the sequence of which the Commission adopted the guidelines of application of said mechanism. On 27 April of the same year, the European Commission formally announced it would be triggering the conditionality mechanism against Hungary. After an intense period of negotiations between Brussels and Budapest, the European Commission adopted, on 18 September, a proposal on measures for the protection of the Union budget against breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary (COM(2022) 485 final), following which the Council of the EU adopted, on 18 September, an implementing decision on the measures proposed by the Commission.
Before we proceed with the analysis of the proposed measures and their impacts on the protection of the rule of law, we must briefly provide the necessary legal framework. As we have discussed before, the intention behind the adoption of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 is “the protection of the Union budget in the case of breaches of the principles of the rule of law in the Member States”, as is set out in Article 1 of the same Regulation. Article 3 of this Regulation establishes situations that may indicate a breach of the principles of the rule of law, and Article 4 stipulates the conditions for the adoption of the necessary measures to protect the same principles. Article 5 lays down the measures that can be adopted in case the Commission finds that the principles of the rule of law have been breached under the described terms, following the procedure set out in Article 6 of the Regulation. We further add that Article 5(3) enshrines a principle of proportionality when adopting those protective measures. Article 6(1) determines that the Commission may resort to the conditionality mechanism unless it considers that other procedures set out in Union legislation would allow it to protect the Union budget more effectively. Seeing that the European Commission has already resorted to Article 7 TEU and to several infringement procedures regarding the Hungarian government’s various breaches, the conditions were met to activate the conditionality regime.Continue reading “On the triggering of the EU’s conditionality mechanism: what has been done and what could follow”