This article is a contribution to the vital discussions about the rule of law in the EU, focusing on a specific and crucial element of the rule of law: judicial independence. Recently, the CJEU started to use Article 19 (1) of Treaty on European Union and Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as a basis for enforcing judicial independence in the Member States in cases which do not contain any explicit cross-border elements. This is how some provisions of the heavily criticized reform of the Polish judiciary have already been declared as contrary to EU law by the CJEU. However, it is not only Poland where judges face difficulties. The main subject of this article is a Hungarian case: a preliminary reference issued by a Hungarian judge questioning his own independence. Judicial independence is not primarily threatened by explicit legal provisions but by the fact that the former head of the judiciary administration regularly misused her competence to invalidate judicial applications over several years. This article analyses the Hungarian preliminary reference and its chances in light of the CJEU’s recent, respective case law, especially the preliminary ruling concerning the Polish National Council of the Judiciary, the KRS (Krajowa Rada Sądownictwa) and the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court (joined cases C 585/18, C 624/18 and C 625/18).
European Public Law – Kluwer Law International
Published: Dec 1, 2020