The pressure is growing in the EU – in all directions: Parliament is calling for action against Hungary and Poland. But first a case against Germany starts. The cases are indirectly related.
Brussels / Strasbourg – The European Parliament * has taken it seriously – and urged the EU Commission around President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) to apply the rule of law mechanism against Viktor Orbans * Hungary and Poland. Meanwhile, the commission is one step further with a view to Germany of all places: The authority initiated formal proceedings against the Federal Republic on Wednesday. A spectacular step. Which in turn is indirectly related to the dispute over Hungary and Poland.
Poland and Hungary: Parliament urges the EU Commission to act – CSU Europe man Weber is satisfied
With a view to Hungary and Poland, Parliament is still trying to push ahead. Within two weeks, Parliament’s President David Sassoli is expected to request the Commission to apply the rule of law mechanism. At the end of the process, there could even be a lawsuit. Vice President Katarina Barley (SPD) had previously talked to Merkur.de* urged to hurry *. The EU would be “hollowed out from within”, she warned: “Then this European Union as we know it will not last much longer.”
The parliamentary group leader of the conservative EPP, CSU politician Manfred Weber, has also asked before the vote Merkur.de* welcomes the plans. “The EPP Group was one of the initiators of the rule of law mechanism. The fact that this procedure exists is a very important achievement for the EU. Parliament fully agrees that the mechanism must be applied now, ”he said. Weber also objected, however, that legal security comes before speed. “We expect the Commission to deliver in June. Then action must be taken. “
EU Commission initiates proceedings against Germany due to verdict: fundamental legal principles violated?
The EU Commission * has already acted in the direction of Berlin. Your accusation weighs heavily: the Commission sees Germany violating fundamental legal principles of the European Union. On Wednesday, the Brussels authority justified the start of formal proceedings against the Federal Republic in the dispute over a Karlsruhe constitutional judgment on the European Central Bank from May 2020.
The ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court had already caused a stir last year. At that time, the Karlsruhe judges objected to bond purchases worth billions as part of the European Central Bank’s PSPP program, which was launched in 2015 – although the European Court of Justice had previously approved this. This is the first time they have disregarded an ECJ ruling, even though decisions by the highest EU court are binding for all member states.
That is now the core of the EU Commission’s allegations: Karlsruhe qualified both the ECB program and the ECJ ruling on it as “ultra vires” – as a violation of competencies. In doing so, the Federal Constitutional Court broke the principle that EU law takes precedence over national law.
“Europe à la carte”: Commission raises allegations against Germany – also out of concern about Poland and Hungary
If that catches on, it could lead to a “Europe à la carte”, said Commission spokesman Christian Wigand. However, European law must be applied equally everywhere and for all citizens. The fact that the Commission is now initiating infringement proceedings against Germany is also a signal: Even the most powerful member state cannot afford to go it alone.
The situation after the Karlsruhe ruling, which was also assessed by legal experts as difficult, had actually eased recently. According to the ruling, the Federal Government and the Bundestag should work to ensure that the ECB retrospectively checks whether the bond purchases were proportionate. That is now done, as the Constitutional Court confirmed at the end of April. So one could have let the conflict rest.
But from the point of view of the EU Commission that was not possible because others are now using the German judgment for themselves. The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had already spoken in 2020 of “one of the most important judgments in the history of the European Union”. Now he is looking for a conflict with the ECJ himself.
At the end of May, the Luxembourg judges ordered Poland * to stop the mining of lignite in the Turow open-cast mine. But Morawiecki disagreed. The head of government said at the time that the energy security of Polish citizens will not be jeopardized “just because someone in the (European) Court of Justice has made this or that decision.” No decision by any EU institution should expose Polish citizens to risk.
EU wants German reaction to Karlsruhe ruling – it remains to be seen how that should work
From a Brussels point of view, things get down to business, which Commission head Ursula von der Leyen made clear a year ago: “The last word on EU law is always spoken in Luxembourg. Nowhere else. ”Angela Merkel’s government spokesman Steffen Seibert reacted tightly on Wednesday with the sentence that they would look closely at the concerns expressed in the warning letter and then respond to them in writing as planned. Germany has two months for this.
Spicy: The addressee of the EU proceedings is the federal government, but it cannot impose any regulations on the constitutional court. Commission spokesman Wigand remained vague. Of course, one fully respects the independence of the judiciary in Germany. But: “Ultimately, a change in the jurisprudence in Germany or a ruling by the European Court of Justice could have an important clarifying function in this context.” If there is no amicable agreement, the most likely thing is: the next case for Luxembourg including potential for dispute with Karlsruhe.
Meanwhile, there is also a new (smaller) infringement procedure against Hungary. It is about the withdrawal of the broadcasting license for the independent broadcaster Klubradio. The Hungarian authorities acted “disproportionately and not transparently” in rejecting the application for renewal of the broadcasting license, the commission said on Wednesday. This is “a breach of EU law”. Klubradio was the most important independent radio station in Hungary. A Budapest court had rejected an appeal by Klubradio against the withdrawal of the broadcasting license in February. (fn / dpa) *Merkur.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.