Hungary, Poland slapped down by EU top court again

Pro-Europe protesters gather at Plac Zamkowy, in Warsaw's Old Town, after the Constitutional Tribunal ruled Polish constitution has primacy over EU laws on Oct 10, 2021 in Warsaw, Poland. (MAGDALENA CHODOWNIK / GETTY IMAGES VIA BLOOMBERG)

Hungary and Poland were slapped down again by the European Union’s top court for violating the bloc’s sacred rule-of-law standards, in a sign that the chasm between the EU and the two renegade nations is widening further. 

Hungary violated EU law with its harsh anti-immigration policy and by “criminalizing” efforts to help asylum seekers, the EU Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday. 

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In a separate case, EU judges in Luxembourg ruled that Poland illegally gave its justice minister – who is also the public prosecutor – too many powers to decide on promoting or demoting judges. 

Aside from numerous court cases, the clashes have led to the EU delaying $41 billion of stimulus funds bound for Poland and 7.2 billion euros for Hungary

The feuds come amid a long saga of wrangling over slipping democratic standards in the EU’s biggest eastern European nation, Poland, and in Hungary. The duo’s defiance of EU laws and basic EU principles has provoked the European Commission, the bloc’s executive authority, just as the region tries to recover from the economic havoc sparked by the pandemic. 

Aside from numerous court cases, the clashes have led to the EU delaying 36 billion euros ($41 billion) of stimulus funds bound for Poland and 7.2 billion euros for Hungary. 

Last month, Poland’s top court ruled that some EU laws are incompatible with the country’s constitution, undermining a cornerstone of EU membership. 

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has now also decided to ask its Constitutional Court to review an EU court ruling related to migration, which the EU’s Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said was “unacceptable.”

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Poland’s sweeping judicial reforms, which have included lowering the retirement age of judges, and the use of a controversial disciplinary chamber for judges, have led to a string of EU-level disputes. 

Last month, the EU court hit Poland with a record 1 million-euro daily fine in the fast-escalating feud over the rule of law that prompted accusations of “blackmail” from Warsaw.

Last week, the commission said it would request fines from the EU court over Hungary’s failure to comply with an earlier ruling by the bloc’s top judges that cuts at the heart of Orban’s anti-immigration policy.