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Laurent Pech on the Rule of Law Conditionality Mechanism

The European Commission’s rule of law report is useful for solving rule of law problems for well-intentioned, democratic actors, but it does not deliver results for malevolent, autocratic actors, our Senior Research Fellow Laurent Pech said to HVG.

He talked about the possible sanctions the European Council could impose on Hungary and Poland, but it does not seem realistic to do so in the near future, he thinks. The European Council is presumably playing a game of "sending the problem back to the European Commission" so that it does not have to take on the political difficulties of dealing with criticisms of the rule of law, he argued.

As he explained, according to many experts, infringement procedures would allow the European Commission to act as a "defender of the Treaties." These procedures could be used to address systemic problems in European law, including rule of law issues, but the Commission is "not willing to make extensive use of this instrument".

The threat of sanctions prompted the Orban government to submit a number of new bills to reach a settlement, but these, according to him, do not provide a solution to the rule of law problems. "This is not even the beginning of a real response. They are just fake, cosmetic reforms, they don't change anything, but they might convince the European Commission and the Council of the European Union to do nothing again,” he said.

Since 2010, the EU has repeatedly backed away from taking action against Hungary after the government's apparent reforms, he continued, and argued that this could happen again. “The Hungarian government is pretending to do something, and it is possible that the EU will pretend that something is happening," he pointed out.

Read the full article (in Hungarian) here.

Cover photo: European Union 2020 / Etienne Ansotte
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