Judgment of the Court Full Court of 16 February 2022, Poland v Parliament and Council, C-157/21

Date16 February 2022
or its principles, the Court states that the principles set out in the regulation, as constituent elements
of that concept,
have been developed extensively in its case-law, that those principles have their
source in common values which are also recognised and applied by the Member States in their own
legal systems and that they stem from a concept of ‘the rule of law’ which the Member States share
and to which they adhere, as a value common to their constitutional traditions. Consequently, the
Court finds that the Member States are in a position to determine with sufficient precision the
essential content and the requirements flowing from each of those principle s.
Furthermore, the Court specifies that the regulation requires, for the adoption of the protective
measures which it lays down, that a genuine link be established between a breach of a principle of the
rule of law and an effect or serious risk of effect on the sound financial management of the Union or
the financial interests of the Union and that such a breach must concern a situation or conduct that is
attributable to an authority of a Member State and relevant to the proper implementation of the
Union budget. The Court notes that the concept of ‘serious risk’ is clarified in the EU financial
legislation and states that the protective measures that may be adopted must be strictly
proportionate to the impact of the breach found on the Union budget. In particular, according to the
Court, those measures may target actions and programmes other than those affected by such a
breach only where that is strictly necessary to achieve the objective of protecting the Union budget as
a whole. Lastly, the Court finds that the Commission must comply, subject to review by the EU
judicature, with strict procedural requirements involving inter alia several consultations with the
Member State concerned, and concludes that the regulation meets the requirements of the principle
of legal certainty.
In those circumstances, the Court dismisses the actions brought by Hungary and Poland in their
Judgment of the Court (Full Court) of 16 February 2022, Poland v Parliament and Council,
Link to the complete text of the judgment
Action for annulment Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 General regime of conditionality for the
protection of the European Union budget Protection of the Union budget in the case of breaches of the
principles of the rule of law in the Member States Legal basis Article 322(1)(a) TFEU Article 311
TFEU Article 312 TFEU Alleged circumvention of Article 7 TEU and Article 269 TFEU Alle ged
infringements of Article 4(1), Article 5(2) and Article 13(2) TEU, of the second paragraph of Article 296
TFEU, of Protocol (No 2) on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and of the
principles of conferral, legal certainty, proportionality and equality of the Member States before the
Treaties Alleged misuse of powers
Regulation 2020/2092 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2020
established a ‘horizontal conditionality mechanism’ designed to protect the budget of the European
Union in the case of breaches of the principles of the rule of law in a Member State. To that end, that
regulation allows the Council of the European Union, on a proposal from the European Commission,
Under the regulation, that conce pt includes the princ iple of legality implying a transparent, accountable, democratic and plu ralistic law-
making process, and the principles of legal certainty, prohibition of arbitrari ness of the executive powers, effective judicial protection,
including access to justice, by independent and impartial courts, also as regards fundamental rights, separation of powers, n on-
discrimination and equality before the law.
Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2020 on a general regime of
conditionality for the protection of the Union budget (OJ 2020 L 433 I, p. 1, and corrigendum OJ 2021 L 373, p. 94; ‘the contested regulation’ ).

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