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Hungary and Poland: Rogue states threatening the EU?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Sep 14th, 2018 at 02:46:01 PM EST

Hungary and Poland pose worse threat to EU than Brexit

Unforeseen and shocking political developments in another member state have placed Ireland at the centre of the biggest crisis facing the EU. No, I am not talking about Brexit but the breakdown of the rule of law in Hungary and, particularly Poland.

Ireland's central role in this comes from a case that has come before the Irish High Court. Artur Celmer is wanted by the Polish authorities for trial on a number of charges including drug trafficking. An EU law called the European Arrest Warrant made the extradition of people from one member state almost automatic.

However, politics has intervened. In recent years, the Hungarian and Polish governments have been criticised for adopting increasingly illiberal policies, particularly in relation to judicial independence.


Under EU law, the Irish authorities are required to trust the institutions of other member states. In extradition proceedings, if a court in an EU member state asks an Irish court to surrender someone for trial, the Irish court under EU law has to assume that that person will get a fair trial.

However, EU institutions have been openly doubting whether the Polish government respects judicial independence. So it was not surprising that the Irish High Court decided that it should ask the European Court whether it should continue to assume that people such as Celmer would get a fair trial if extradited to Poland. This decision caused an avalanche of criticism and abuse from leading pro-government figures in Poland.

The High Court decided it should ask the European Court whether it should continue to assume people such as Celmer would get a fair trial if extradited to Poland

The European Court ruled that the Irish court should verify whether there is a systemic problem in relation to judicial independence and whether there is a real risk that, if extradited, Celmer would suffer a breach of his right to a fair trial. The High Court has now decided to ask the Polish authorities for more information before it decides whether to surrender Celmer to them.

It is difficult to overstate the seriousness of this situation for the EU. Mutual recognition based on mutual trust between member states goes far beyond issues of extradition. Indeed, EU law as a whole is an elaborate web of duties on member states to recognise and enforce each other's decisions.

In addition, as Idiotsavant and Oui have pointed out, the EU Parliament has voted by the required two-thirds majority to take the unprecedented step of initiating Chapter 7 disciplinary proceedings against Viktor Orbán's authoritarian regime in Hungary: Proceedings which could result in Hungary being deprived of its voting rights within the EU.

For this threat to become a reality, however, all 27 other EU member states would have to support that next step. Poland has declared it will not support this, presumably to pre-empt the possibility of a similar action being taken against Poland.

So we have a standoff within the EU: Hungary and Poland are systematically seeking to undermine the democratic norms on which the EU is built, and there is nothing the EU can do about it, provided they remain united in their opposition to the rest of the EU. Or is there?


2014 figures

By a strange coincidence, Poland and Hungary are also the largest net beneficiaries of EU funds. Could the Commission - acting within it's legal competences - slow down the disbursement of funds to Poland and Hungary until they become fully compliant with EU democratic norms?

More crucially, the next 7 year cycle of the EU budget is currently under negotiation. Cutbacks are going to have to be made because of the loss of the UK's net contribution. The process could stall if there is a loss of trust that all EU members are implementing their EU responsibilities in accordance with the Treaties.

Poland and Hungary have the most to lose if that process breaks down and is replaced by only minimal emergency funding to keep EU institutions operational. Why should other EU states continue to fund them if they then proceed to undermine the very basis of EU solidarity? Certainly, it will be very difficult for any member to agree an increase in their net contribution while net beneficiaries flout EU norms.

Viktor Orbán and Andrzej Duda need to learn that cooperation and solidarity work both ways.

Display:
Expediency ... or stupidity of rapid EU expansion to the Russian frontier at the behest of NATO.

Hungary used to be considered the economic miracle of Eastern Europe ... plenty of EU funds I can imagine.

See the troubles on solidarity (immigration) and the Visegrád group of 4 nations:

Europe's Frontier: A Rusted Iron Curtain

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Fri Sep 14th, 2018 at 07:46:11 PM EST
"Breakdown of the rule of law" presupposes uniformity of laws, their interpretation by legislators, and application to similarly situated disputes in all courts of the member-states.

That is not the case among member-states. That has not been the case among member-states. Nationalism celebrates deviance. Execution of ECU Council directives is elastic, member-states' legislatures interpret ECU directives to enact statute, and EU "law enforcement" (EC) of civil rights and commerce is irregular.

The ECJ --political forum of "last resort"-- exists by member agreement to end factual disputes between deviants: between persons (including corporations), persons and states, states and states, and international governments. Mistrust and "mutual recognition" of incongruent statutes and enforcement practices provokes members to defer to ECJ judgment.

Germany's highest court, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), found on Thursday the interpretation of European law, over which the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has sole legal authority, was central to the case.
It would be another argument altogether were the author's proposition, Uniformity of laws among EU member-states is a political goal of EU government. At the very least, readers would be required to acknowledge the intellectually, uncomfortable opposition of supranational "norms" to customary national "norms" --particularly with respect to the legitimacy of Polish and Hungarian gov actions within their respective constituencies and whether or not those "norms" actually impair ECU interstate business. That is, after all, the customary mandate of EU government authority, regulating trade practices.

Sovereignty is not the issue contested by political factions is Poland or Hungary. EU gov has not moved to  regulate trade practice, but presumably to punish with its meager police powers eg. fines (1) international civil rights violations by states' bureaucracies and (2) re-assert supremacy of ECJ "norm" setting.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 14th, 2018 at 10:44:22 PM EST
The issue before the Irish High Court is a relatively simple one: Will Artur Celmer receive a fair trial if extradited to Poland? The issue would be a lot more emotive still if Artur Celmer were an Irish National: Irish Courts and law enforcement agencies would have to be satisfied that an Irish Citizen would enjoy the same rights and protections if tried in Poland. That is the basis of trust on which much of the EU is built. Why would you subject your citizens to a judicial regime you suspect is tainted by fascist or nationalist political considerations?

Polish authorities have a duty of care to ensure other EU member states can execute European Arrest Warrants without fear of those extradited being subjected to a tainted judicial process. That duty of care is reciprocally shared by all member states. This has nothing to do with trade and everything to do with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and other relevant Treaties. The ECJ is not a "political forum of "last resort"", but an agreed judicial forum to enforce those rights.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Sep 15th, 2018 at 09:37:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for restating what I wrote, although the particularities of the case before any Irish court are irrelevant to the thesis.
Uniformity of laws among EU member-states is a political goal of EU government.
So, yes, the ECJ, understood to be the sole, final interpreter of ECU Council directives --addressed to member legislatures to enact conforming civil or criminal code-- and arbiter of disputed legal codes is a "political forum of last resort."

Thank you for not asking, What is the first political forum? I have asked the question, and it is not some generalized expectation or expression of "trust" that the conduct of persons will | should | could be uniform and predictable; or that the conduct of all persons has been or is known to be perforce socially acceptable and harmless to others.

To the contrary: The knowledge, primordial and current, that personal conduct is not uniform, predictable, and necessarily harmless to others provokes people to erect institutions of law said to codify socially acceptable and socially unacceptable conduct as well as law enforcement among people to compel their obedience to such rules and combinations thereof (algorithms) for purported "civilized" behavior.

These institutions together are called government.

And howsoever government is formed by people, the people's discourse and agreement to its terms, rewards, and punishments is the first political forum.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Sep 15th, 2018 at 03:16:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU Spent a Bundle to Unify the Continent. It's Not Working --- WSJ
The European Union has spent nearly $1 trillion to unify the continent by delivering highways and trains into places where there were once gravel paths. In current dollars, that is over eight times the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. The EU has bought airports and bridges, trams and swimming pools. It has repaired castles and medieval churches.

It hasn't bought love.

To the vexation of European leaders, some of the biggest recipients of funding are now hotbeds of discontent, brimming with voters disquieted by the cultural and political pressures that have accompanied European integration, and threatening the bloc's cohesion.

by das monde on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 09:55:15 AM EST
I don't have a WSJ subscription. What evidence does it provide to justify its contention that "some of the biggest recipients of funding are now hotbeds of discontent, brimming with voters disquieted by the cultural and political pressures that have accompanied European integration"?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 11:18:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a copy. It's all about Poland, with nothing about Lithuania and Latvia, the largest recipients (per capita or relative to GDP, that is. Hint to the WSJ which may not be aware of the fact: Poland is a lot larger....)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 11:36:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is from my Facebook feed today:

Pundits proclaim that Lithuania is a first world country. People ironically remember blatant illegality of the referendum:

The biggest concern for the yes campaign was whether turnout would reach the 50% required for the referendum to be valid. After the first day of voting turnout was only 30% and both the President and Prime Minister appeared on TV to urge Lithuanians to vote. There was a surge in voting on the Sunday with many people voting after church services. Lithuanian supermarkets also had a campaign on the second day of voting, offering cheaper beer, chocolate and soap to those who showed they had voted. In the end there were queues outside some voting booths and turnout was over 60%, safely over the required level.[
by das monde on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 02:49:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why didn't they invite Netanyahu to warn them that the Russians were voting?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 02:52:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hasn't Lithuania lost almost 10% of its population to emigration, especially young professionals?
by Bernard on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 03:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lithuania lost over 20% of its 1990 population. Not many faces in their 20s on Vilnius streets, to say nothing of the province.
by das monde on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 03:16:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How does this compare with Hungary?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 05:03:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To where did they go?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 05:26:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Across the EU. Lots of them here.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 20th, 2018 at 08:38:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A trove of data.

Wouldn't you find a local Lithuanian store :-)

by das monde on Thu Sep 20th, 2018 at 09:38:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where will they go after Brexit?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Sep 20th, 2018 at 10:03:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU? Absolute numbers are small.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 20th, 2018 at 10:51:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very reminiscent of Ireland until the 1990's. Then the Celtic Tiger enabled net immigration and that situation has now returned after the financial crash and Great Recession. Hopefully most eastern European states will be able to at least partially repeat that relative transformation.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Sep 19th, 2018 at 10:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Four suspects in journalist Jan Kuciak's murder held in custody | DW |

A court in Slovakia on Sunday ordered four people charged with the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova, to be kept in jail until their trial.

Three of the suspects were among eight people detained in a house raid on Thursday morning. The fourth suspect was arrested separately on Friday. Five others have been released, the prosecutor's office said.

Police said a former investigator and former soldier are among the perpetrators, according to The Slovak Spectator newspaper. It is not yet clear when they will face trial.

The killings sparked massive protests that forced the resignations of then Prime Minister Robert Fico and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, as well as Slovak police chief Tibor Gaspar.

Reporters Without Borders concerned about situation in Slovakia

Previous headline @EuroTrib plus+ ...

Blood on Their Hands? - FP
Six months on people commemorate Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová

Related reading ...

Slovakia and the Partnership for Peace | NATO Review - 1994 |
Slovakia: NATO Exit Idea Gains Momentum (2017)

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Sun Sep 30th, 2018 at 10:33:40 PM EST


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