European Parliament threatens with trial over Hungarian blackmail

The European Parliament (EP) is preparing legal action against the European Commission over the recent release of a €102 billion EU grant for Hungary. According to Brussels, the release of that Hungarian money was necessary to allow Budapest to cooperate in EU support to Ukraine. The European Parliament calls this 'giving in to Hungarian blackmail'.

It is highly exceptional that these two EU bodies threaten to file lawsuits against each other. This week, government leaders are again discussing more support for Ukraine in their fight against the Russian occupiers. The European Parliament makes the initiation of a lawsuit dependent on the outcome of that consultation.

Group leaders will meet on Thursday to give President Roberta Metsola the final green light to take the Commission to court before the March 25 deadline. Together with the party leaders of the S&D, Greens, Left and Liberals, EPP leader Manfred Weber will vote in favor of the move, according to party officials in the corridors.

Such a move by the European Parliament marks an escalation of tensions between the institutions of the European Union and Hungary under Orbán. The Prime Minister has repeatedly criticized what he sees as interference in Hungary's internal affairs by the EU.

The EP has repeatedly called on the Commission to intervene over concerns about the erosion of democratic norms in Hungary, including the independence of the judiciary, press freedom and minority rights.

Any legal battle between the European Parliament and the European Commission is expected to be lengthy and complex, and is likely to set a precedent for how the EU will henceforth deal with EU countries that undermine the rule of law.