The European Union (EU) has consistently prioritized the safeguarding of its fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights (EU 2016). Recent years have witnessed concerns regarding the erosion of these values in some EU member states, Hungary being a notable example (EC 2019). To address these concerns, the EU enacted Regulation 2020/2092, establishing a conditionality mechanism that links the allocation of EU funds to member states’ adherence to the rule of law (EU 2020). This proposed thesis seeks to provide a critical analysis of the conditionality mechanism under EU Regulation 2020/2092, focusing specifically on its application in Hungary. Through an examination of legal provisions, case studies, and scholarly literature, this thesis aims to assess the mechanism’s effectiveness and challenges in promoting the rule of law in Hungary.
The rule of law constitutes a foundational principle of the European Union, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) (TEU 2007). It signifies a commitment to a legal system characterized by clear laws, equal application to all, and impartial enforcement. The EU has consistently emphasized the rule of law as an essential value underlying its existence.
Background and Context
A. The Rule of Law in the European Union
The EU has long emphasized the significance of the rule of law as a fundamental value (EU 2016). It is enshrined in Article 2 of the TEU and is integral to the EU’s identity and objectives.
B. Rule of Law Concerns in Hungary
In recent years, Hungary has drawn international attention due to concerns over its commitment to the rule of law. Actions by the Hungarian government, such as changes to the judiciary, media regulations, and electoral processes, have raised questions about the independence of these institutions and the rule of law.
C. EU Response: Regulation 2020/2092
In response to these concerns, the EU adopted Regulation 2020/2092, which establishes a conditionality mechanism for the protection of the EU budget. This regulation introduces a framework enabling the EU to suspend, reduce, or restrict funds to member states posing a systemic threat to the rule of law. The regulation’s enactment represents a significant step in addressing rule of law issues within member states (EU 2020).
The Conditionality Mechanism: Legal Analysis
A. Overview of Regulation 2020/2092
- Key Provisions and Objectives
Regulation 2020/2092 outlines conditions under which the EU can suspend or restrict funds to a member state. It establishes criteria for determining a systemic threat and defines the procedure for assessing the rule of law situation.
- Role of the European Commission
The regulation designates the European Commission as responsible for initiating the conditionality procedure. The Commission is tasked with monitoring and evaluating the rule of law situation in member states and proposing measures in cases of identified breaches.
Challenges to Implementing the Conditionality Mechanism
- Legal and Procedural Challenges
This section analyzes legal and procedural challenges the conditionality mechanism may encounter in Hungary, including potential conflicts with national legal systems and constitutional principles.
- Political Considerations
Exploration of political dynamics related to implementing the mechanism, especially when a member state is subject to conditionality measures. It addresses how the EU balances its values with the sovereignty of member states.
Case Studies: Application in Hungary
Assessing Hungary’s Rule of Law Situation
This section conducts case studies on specific instances or areas where concerns regarding the rule of law in Hungary have been raised. It may include examinations of changes in the judiciary, media freedom, and electoral processes.
Actions by the European Commission
An analysis of the actions taken by the European Commission concerning Hungary under Regulation 2020/2092. It explores how the Commission assesses Hungary’s adherence to the rule of law and any proposed or implemented measures.
Effectiveness and Implications
A. Assessing the Effectiveness of the Conditionality Mechanism
Evaluation of the mechanism’s effectiveness in promoting the rule of law in Hungary. This section examines whether the conditionality measures have had positive impacts or faced resistance and challenges.
B. Implications for Hungary and the EU
Discussion of broader implications of the conditionality mechanism for Hungary’s relationship with the EU and the EU as a whole. It addresses how it influences Hungary’s policy decisions and lessons for other member states facing rule of law concerns.
A summary of key research findings and their implications for the EU’s efforts to protect the rule of law. It considers the lessons drawn from Hungary’s experience with the conditionality mechanism and its potential application in other cases.
EC. 2019. “Rule of law: European Commission acts to defend judicial independence in Poland.” Accessed . https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_19_5405
EU. 2016. “Treaty on European Union (Consolidated Version).” Accessed . https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A12012M%2FTXT
EU. 2020. “Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2020 on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget.” Accessed . https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32020R2092
TEU. 2007. “Treaty on European Union (Consolidated Version).” Accessed . https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A12012M%2FTXT