CJEU to fast-track conditionality complaint of Poland and Hungary

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has decided to accelerate procedures in connection with a complaint by Poland and Hungary against the EU's mechanism of linking EU funds with the rule of law.

The CJEU president has granted the use of the expedited procedure in cases concerning conditionality for the protection of the EU budget in the event of violation of the rule of law in a member state, the CJEU tweeted on Friday.

The hearing is scheduled for October 11-12, the CJEU added.

In May, the European Parliament asked the CJEU to accelerate procedures in connection with the complaint filed by Poland and Hungary in March against the EU's new conditionality mechanism aimed at disciplining member states infringing European values and to allow the withholding of EU funds assigned to them.

After a heated debate at an EU budget summit in December 2020, Poland and Hungary agreed to the inclusion of the mechanism in the 2021-2027 European budget, but won some concessions from the EU, including a statement that the funds may not be frozen arbitrarily and can only be withheld if damage or a serious risk to the EU budget is ascertained.

The rule-of-law mechanism is to apply to systemic breaches of fundamental EU values, such as democracy or the independence of the judiciary, but only in cases when such violations affect or risk affecting the management of EU funds.

In order to be launched, the conditionality mechanism will require a qualified majority vote by all member states. The budget sanctions will apply to governments, but will not affect the final beneficiaries, such as students, researchers, companies and NGOs.

Poland and Hungary are the only two countries in the 27-member European bloc to oppose this clause. Both Warsaw and Budapest have been at odds with the European Commission over what the commission sees as attempts to undermine the rule of law in the two countries.

After the summit, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki held a press conference with Viktor Orban, his Hungarian counterpart, during which they said they would ask the EU's top court to check if the regulation on the rule of law is in line with EU treaties.