The tolerance of Von der Leyen facilitated the authoritarian drift of Orbán and Kaczynski

Judges and lawyers from all over Europe responded to by Saturday a demonstration in Warsaw of his colleagues Polish in defense of judicial independence, which t

The tolerance of Von der Leyen facilitated the authoritarian drift of Orbán and Kaczynski

Judges and lawyers from all over Europe responded to by Saturday a demonstration in Warsaw of his colleagues Polish in defense of judicial independence, which they consider threatened by the Government. The "march of a thousand gowns" as it has been qualified to the demonstration, to protest against the recent judicial reforms. And redoubles the pressure on the European Commission not to drop your guard. Non-governmental organizations and associations judicial fear that the Commission, presided over from the 1 of December by Ursula von der Leyen, to be more lenient with Warsaw, the former chief Executive, chaired by Jean-Claude Juncker. And the first gestures of Von der Leyen approach both to Poland and to Hungary have triggered alarms.

to build bridges to the East to avoid the shock of Brussels with Poland and Hungary cracked the European Union. That has been the strategy of the president of Von der Leyen from the European Parliament approved his appointment on 16 July. The conservative German has maintained the benevolence with the Poland of Jarosław Kaczyński and the Hungary of Viktor Orbán after taking possession on the 1st of December. But six months of courting Governments with authoritarian tendencies have not so far given any result.

"The situation is very serious and that is why we are here", pointed out José Igreja Matos, president of the european Association of Judges, in a statement to Reuters during the march in Warsaw. Skidding authoritarian in Warsaw and Budapest, far from slowing, were accelerated during the second half of the year.

And the apparent passivity, and even tolerance of Von der Leyen, is concerned about the political and social forces that are fighting in those two countries and in other EU members to maintain a system based on the rule of law, judicial independence and freedom of the press. The repeated and overwhelming electoral victories of the Fidesz Orbán and the PIS (Law and Justice) of Kaczynski further complicate the possible intervention of Brussels.

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The last movements of Poland to distinguish from the case law of the EU and to remove the judges who dare to disagree with the line the government have triggered new alarms, to the extent that some analysts suggest that the country of Kaczynski advances toward an output of de-facto community club.

in mid-December, dozens of scholars from poland and representatives of non-governmental organizations requested the Commission in writing of Von der Leyen to ask the Court of the EU on the temporary suspension of the new judicial reforms, as it did in 2018, with resounding success, the Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker when Warsaw approved the early retirement. But, for the moment, the response of the current Committee has been a letter from the vice-president Vera Jourova (who has replaced Frans Timmermans in the monitoring of the State of law) calling for the last Thursday of the Polish Parliament, to stop the processing of the reform. Less than 24 hours later, the reform was approved.

"The Commission of Von der Leyen seems to be more timid than that of Juncker in the defense of the rule of law in Hungary and Poland", concludes Alberto Alemanno, professor holder of Jean Monnet chair of European Law at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Paris. "And it is hard to forget that the daring and adjusted confirmation of Von der Leyen in the European Parliament [by only nine votes, margin] is accomplished thanks to the support of PIS and Fidesz, the two ruling parties in Poland and Hungary. Is it a mere coincidence?", asks the analyst.

Von der Leyen, in effect, was imposed as president of the Commission thanks to the rejection of Warsaw and Budapest, the socialist candidate, Frans Timmermans, Commission vice-president and regarded by both capitals as the whip of Article 7 (punishing those countries that violate the fundamental values of the EU). Meps Orban and Kaczynski were also key for the German to surpass by a hair's breadth the vote of investiture.

Nothing more to be elected in July, Von der Leyen began his courtship to the Governments uncomfortable. Warsaw was the third capital of the european union, which he visited as president-elect, behind only Berlin and Paris. And although the meeting with the Polish authorities was difficult, the conservative German chose to highlight the meeting points and tried to coax that region of Europe with the large investments that can provide the community budget. A promise that was renewed months after the possible funding linked to the Covenant Green to decarbonise the european economy.

The president also assigned portfolios powerful to the four commissioners from the so-called Visegrad group: Agriculture, Poland; the Extension, to Hungary; the vice-president of core Values and Transparency, Czech Republic; and the vice president of institutional Relations, to Slovakia.

The political family of Von der Leyen, the European people's Party, has also kept the bridges with the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban, despite the fact that ever more unsustainable. The EPP has suspended the membership of Fidesz, the party of Orban, before the european elections. But avoided expulsion to give the nth opportunity for the recovery of ties with Budapest. Or the strategy of appeasement of the Commission or the EPP have produced no result up to now.

"democracy is dying in Poland and in Hungary", warned the mep liberal Sophie in 't Veld, during a session of the Liberties Committee of the European Parliament last Monday. "And the disease is spreading", he added, in the same week that Parliament has been pressured to resign immediately, the prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, by the possible involvement of its environment, the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

structural Funds

The president of the Commission and rapporteur of the implementation of article 7 to Poland, the socialist Juan Fernando López Aguilar, stated in the same meeting, the litany of potential violations and "political interference in the Constitutional Court" that undermine progressively the rule of law in the fifth largest country of the EU.

The new european commissioner of Justice, the liberal belgian Didier Reynders, ensures that it will keep the records open against Poland and Hungary on the basis of article 7. But advocates for "develop new instruments", as a mechanism of surveillance, sobre all the member States, in terms of respect for the fundamental values. And by introducing the possibility of suspending the structural funds to countries that violate those values (such as Poland and Hungary have been assigned to 86.000 million and 25,000 million, respectively, in the budgetary framework in force).

But community sources point to the risk that the general framework of surveillance ends up diluting the pressure on the capitals with higher authoritarian tendencies. And diplomatic sources acknowledge that the suspension of funds would require a majority on the Council that never would, as has already occurred in the implementation of article 7.

"Happens all the time and what has been established in Europe, it is a pattern of how to make a restructuring authoritative in a liberal democracy", warned the mep Terry Reintke, the group of the Greens, during the debate in the parliamentary Commission. "And it's always the same process. First by the media, then invoke an external threat, usually, of people with another religion, and then they speak all the time and finally become an internal threat to the social groups that disagree with his vision (...) And works for them", he added Reintke.

"The propaganda of Orbán is stronger than Putin"

The prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, and will face in the next few weeks to the threat that his party, Fidesz, to be expelled from the European people's Party. Three prominent figures in the popular -Herman Van Rompuy, Hans-Gert Pöttering yWolfgang Schüssel - you are developing the report that will allow the president of the EPP, Donald Tusk, or not to recommend the expulsion in February of 2020. "It's going to be a very delicate moment," acknowledges a source close to the dossier. "If you are expelled, Orban will try to monetize electorally with a campaign of victimhood". The increasing control of Budapest on the media can help to promote the campaign. "Freedom of expression is disappearing in Hungary", warned last week Ramona Strugariau, mep, liberal group Renew. Strugariau just attended in Budapest at a conference on media. And he says that "the name of Orban produced chills among the attendees." The mep said to the Liberties Committee of the European Parliament that Hungary does not reach the disinformation campaigns achacadas the Kremlin and of Putin because "the propaganda of Orban is even stronger than that of Russia."

Updated Date: 13 January 2020, 06:00

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