The European Commission has rejected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s request to end certain infringement proceedings against Hungary. According to the committee’s vice-chair, these cases cannot be resolved by sending letters.
Viktor Orbán (pictured) wrote a letter on Monday to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. In it, he called for the immediate suspension of infringement proceedings against Hungary, which “undermine the territorial and national integrity of the Member States and the protection of their citizens.” The Prime Minister justified his request by saying that the migration situation at the Polish border requires a new legal environment. Orbán’s request was also supported by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The European Commission, on the other hand, politely but quickly rejected Hungarian Prime Minister’s request. In a press conference in Strasbourg, the committee’s vice-chair, Margaritis Schinas, said to journalists that strict rules govern these procedures, and that they cannot be abolished on political grounds.
“There is no political room for maneuver in infringement proceedings. These are strictly defined, by-the-book processes. The only way to close such a procedure is to resolve the case on which it is based,” said Margaritis Schinas, who added, “An infringement procedure cannot be stopped for political reasons or with letters.”
The Hungarian government has long argued that the European Commission is conducting infringement proceedings against Budapest as a political weapon.
“We are quite sure that our law is in line with European values and the law, so I see no reason to change it. We believe it’s a type of revenge from Brussels after we took them to the European Court of Justice over mandatory quotas [on refugees]. Now a sudden infringement procedure is being launched. We understand what’s going on, but we believe that there is no legal basis for these infringement proceedings,” said Péter Szijjártó to Euronews in 2015.
In the past few years, Brussels has launched a series of infringement proceedings against Hungary in cases where Hungarian law is suspected of being incompatible with EU law. Such proceedings have been the subject of several lawsuits before the European Court of Justice.
The court has declared that the Hungarian “transit zone” at Hungary’s border at Röszke, which was eventually closed, was in breach of EU law. The “Stop Soros” laws were recently declared incompatible with EU law by the court. The most recent infringement case against Hungary under the Child Protection Act, which has been called homophobic and not in line with European values, was launched this summer.