Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has been advised to dismiss the challenge by Hungary and Poland to the EU provision allowing it to restrict funding to member states.
In a legal opinion released Thursday, the advocate general stressed that the provision is in line with EU rules, which Hungary and Poland challenged, Reuters reported.
It allows the bloc to restrict access to EU funds to member states that are not adhering to the Union’s rules on the rule of law and democratic values.
The advocate general’s opinion is not binding on the ECJ. However,the court usually follows such opinions.
While activists have been vocal in their opposition to Hungary’s Fidesz party, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and its counterpart in Warsaw, the Law and Justice party, both parties still enjoy steady support from their respective citizenry.
The EC has been trying to get Hungary and Poland to change their course with little effect, but the bloc adopted a new rule-of-law approach last year to help the Commission crack down on non-compliant EU member states.
The new approach has yet to be put to direct use, pending an ECJ ruling to determine whether it is in line with EU’s principles.
Poland has been one of the top beneficiaries of EU development funds since it joined the bloc in 2004. The funds are meant to help poorer bloc members to close development and wealth gaps with wealthier EU member states.
As bloc members develop and become more prosperous, they are required to gradually become net contributors to EU the development fund.
As the friction with Brussels increased, some politicians have advocated exiting the EU, whereas Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has dismissed the idea that Poland might quit the bloc.