Policy Briefs

C. Bastasin: What the European Commission says to Budapest should be heard in Rome too

Under the pressure of the European Parliament, on September 18 the European Commission finally proposed the application of financial sanctions against Hungary for repeated and extended violations of the rule of law. The European Council is now expected to vote under a qualified majority system in favor of cutting the funds that Hungary was granted after the negotiations for its accession to the European Union. Moreover, transfers connected to the Next Generation-EU program will also be suspended.

On the one hand, the interest for the initiative consists of the more influential role that the EU institutions are assuming in the European polity. The intervention in the political choices and in the assessment of the rule of law in every member state is designing a new, tightly interdependent, institutional form, long advocated by the European Parliament.

On the other hand, the indictment of the Hungarian “system of power” – as it emerges in the documents quoted in this brief – represents a definition of the political requisites for all the EU member states. Politically connected firms, domesticated judicial powers, targeted exemptions for politicians in the discipline of conflict of interests, and tolerance for corruption are not acceptable in the EU. The intervention of the European Commission highlights that only open societies in which the rule of law is fully respected are compatible with the solidarity implicit in the common European budget.

As is well known, Italian politicians were divided in endorsing the European Parliament report and the parties that are likely to form the new government might resist voting in favor of sanctioning Hungary. As this brief intends to clarify, the underlying issue is nothing less than the adhesion to the model of an open society.

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