Draft EU council conclusions suggest the rule of law mechanism will survive Hungary’s and Poland’s veto threat. But with two big question marks.
First there will be an interpretative declaration. This is figleaf of no legal consequence to allow the Polish and Hungarian governments to claim they weren’t defeated.
Second, there’s a time delay. It will only come into effect after the European Court of Justice has ruled on its legality. This isn’t how Hungary and Poland operate at home. The CEU was expelled before the ECJ ruled its expulsion illegal. The extension means any enforcement will probably be delayed until after the next Hungarian election. Read Lili Bayer’s summary at Politico for details.
the East German compromise: Hungary and Poland pretend to abide by trhe rule of law and the EU pretends to enforce it.
Daniel Kelemen thinks it doesn’t amount to much, because he thinks the Commission won’t sue this mechanism any more than it has already used the Common Provisions Regulation to clamp down on fraud. Garvan Walshe calls it the East German compromise: Hungary and Poland pretend to abide by trhe rule of law and the EU pretends to enforce it.
All this as Fidesz is dropping in the polls. It may be less a question of using funds to win the election and more of lining their pockets before the voters turn them out (Dariusz Kalan has a great report on the pocket-lining). If you need a refresher on how Hungarian institutions have been destroyed, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee has a fine account of that “illiberal state in the making.”
Fidesz suggests a Tory style semi-detached relationship with EPP (via Eszter Zalan). Perhaps he should go the whole hog and join the ECR. Not that it will save Orbán from declining poll ratings, detected by Gabor Toka’s excellent poll aggregator PopuliIn.
Finally Edit Zgut – warns of media capture happening in Poland, where state-backed oil company Orlen has bought up a collection of local newspapers. The commercial case is thin. Management synergies (hardly)? Savings by merging back-office systems (because oil distribution and newspapers work the same way, hmm…) Future growth prospects (in local newspapers…). This is obviously a political buy.