EU-Kommission v. Ungarn: Warum wir ein “System-Vertragsverletzungsverfahren” brauchen

What can the European Union – and in particular the European Commission – do about Member States that no longer reliably play by the most fundamental European rules? The question is now urgent because several Member States are already posing such challenges. Treaty reform could give the Commission new powers. But can the Commission act without waiting for the long and arduous process of treaty reform to provide new tools?

I propose a new approach, a simple extension of an existing mechanism: the infringement action. The Commission could signal systemic complaints against a Member State by bundling a group of individual infringement actions together under the banner of Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU), which guarantees:

the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

A systemic infringement action would share with ordinary infringement actions specific complaints against the national law or consistent practices of a Member State for violating particular provisions of EU law. As a result, it would have a very concrete ground like a conventional infringement action brought by the Commission under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). By grouping together related complaints thematically under Article 2 TEU, however, the Commission would add the argument that the whole is more than the sum of the parts and that the set of alleged infringements rises to the level of a systemic breach of basic values.

A medical analogy might help to explain how a systemic infringement action would work ...

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