BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Hungary labelled European Union authorities as arrogant after they moved to impose financial penalties against Poland in a dispute over judicial reforms.
The European Commission said on Tuesday it had asked the EU’s top court to fine Poland over the activities of a judges’ disciplinary chamber, stepping up a long-running dispute over the rule of law.
Hungary’s Justice Minister Judit Varga said the action was unacceptable. “The (Hungarian) government has decided … to pass a resolution expressing its support for Poland, and condemn the malicious attacks by Brussels,” she said on her Facebook page late on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who met Polish President Andrzej Duda in Budapest on Thursday, assured Duda of Hungary’s “solidarity and full support” in the context of Brussels’ “attack” on Poland, the PM’s press chief told news agency MTI.
Orban said that Brussels is “abusing its power” and called the fine “outrageous and completely unacceptable”. He said that the procedure against Poland is a threat to EU unity and Hungary will weigh the possibility of acting on the side of Poland in European court proceedings.
Warsaw said three weeks ago that the chamber would be dismantled as part of wider judiciary reforms in coming months.
But the executive Commission said it was taking action now as the chamber was already being used to pressure judges or exert political control over judicial decisions, thereby undercutting EU law.
Varga said ignoring the Polish promise was a “scandalous and arrogant” step by a Commission that was “meddling in the judiciary and law-making process of a sovereign member state in an unprecedented manner”.
Hungary and Poland have been allies for years, both locked in a series of conflicts with Brussels over core issues including the rule of law and press freedoms and LGBT rights. They say they are protecting their traditional societies from Western liberalism.
(Reporting by Krisztina ThanEditing by Raissa Kasolowsky, John Stonestreet, William Maclean)