Sven Giegold
Member of the European Parliament – Greens/EFA Group

Speaker of the German Green Delegation

EU Rule of Law Mechanism: Von der Leyen’s behavior borders on institutional self-abandonment

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today commented in the European Parliament on the European Council’s unilateral declaration to postpone the application of the rule of law mechanism. In substance, the Commission President has stuck to the delay of the application of the rule of law mechanism, which she promised to the European Council. The European Parliament will today adopt a resolution of the pro-European groups in which it explicitly reserves, among other things, legal remedies should the EU Commission fail to fulfill its duty to apply EU law without delay.

MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:

“As is so often the case, von der Leyen’s words and deeds do not match. Rhetorically, she makes herself the defender of the rule of law, but there is little sign of this in her actions. Guarding the treaties is not a rhetorical exercise. It is totally unacceptable for the European Commission to bow to the European Council’s demand to postpone the rule of law mechanism. The declaration of the European Council has no legally binding force. As guardian of the treaties, the Commission has the task of enforcing European law without delay. The rule of law mechanism has been adopted and must therefore be implemented immediately by the Commission. The adopted law also does not provide for any further guidelines. It is therefore unacceptable that the Commission wants to make the application dependent on guidelines that are not even provided for in the Rule of Law Mechanism. In the EU, laws are only adopted jointly by the Council and Parliament. A postponement does Orban the favor of ensuring that the rule of law mechanism may not take real effects before the next elections in Hungary. It is unprecedented that the Commission agrees not to apply a legal act for the time being. This behavior of the Commission borders on institutional self-abandonment. The European Parliament has legal means to make the Commission implement the law. The Parliament does not tolerate this negligent handling of European law. And the rule of law is not an isolated case; rather, a pattern is emerging in von der Leyen’s behavior: when it comes to migration, money laundering, environmental laws or financial market rules, the Commission also neglects its task of enforcing the law. Von der Leyen far too often shies away from initiating infringement proceedings against EU countries. The Commission President’s understanding of her office is highly questionable. An EU Commission that inadequately enforces European law damages trust in Europe in the long term.”

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Draft resolution of the European Parliament: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/B-9-2020-0428_EN.html

Ursula von der Leyen’s speech to the plenary of the European Parliament: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/ov/speech_20_2442