The Brussels Brief

The Pegasus Affair        

Forbidden Stories, the cooperative initiative of international journalists broke the story that journalists were being spied upon by a number of governments across the globe using the Israeli-made Pegasus software. This software tracks any phone data one possesses on a mobile phone including eavesdropping on the calls of mobile phone holders. French President Emmanuel Macron and former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, also fell victims to it. The story sent shockwaves around the globe. Unsurprisingly,  the Hungarian Government made use of this software to spy on 5 Hungarian journalists in the country. Moreover, Hungarian Minister Judith Varga was quoted by Népszava newspaper that “The services (Hungarian Secret Services) make a proposal for surveillance on the basis of whether national security interests are at stake…Let’s not be ridiculous, every country needs such tools”. 

Rule of Law report

We have already featured a detailed analysis of the Rule of Law report on Malta. Hungary’s Rule of Law report contained wording which is the most damning and hardest ever. the report states that “risks of clientelism, favouritism and nepotism in high-level public administration as well as risks arising from the link between businesses and political actors remain unaddressed.” It further adds “independent control mechanisms remain insufficient for detecting corruption. Concerns remain regarding the lack of systematic checks and insufficient oversight of asset and interest declarations.”

In an interview with Politico’s Brussels Playbook European Commissioner Didier Reynders used Malta positively as an example on how the reforms should be undertaken.

Meanwhile, Hungary will be losing Norwegian Funds, and the Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide said that “when the government cannot agree on the basic principle that we agree with all other 14 beneficiary countries, then we have to draw the line.” EU Member States can benefit from the disbursement of Norwegian Funds to fund projects in the social and economic spheres. It seems that Norway will be showing the way on what the EU should do in this regard.

No! The Irish Protocol is not sustainable…full stop.

That is the bombshell the Brits threw this week at the European Commission. After months of arduous negotiations culminating in an agreement on a special protocol for Northern Ireland, and after the UK ratified it through its Parliament, it decided to make a U-turn. Whether this boils down to the way the British negotiate and then retreat or something else, remains to be seen. In a statement to the UK Parliament, David Frost has demanded to ‘freeze’ the Northern Ireland Protocol and to end EU oversight by EU courts. The EU quickly rejected the proposal and reminded the UK that it was the one who had negotiated and ratified the agreement on the Irish Protocol in a statement by EU Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.

Full statement here.

Polexit...v2

A stern warning was issued this week by the European Commission to Poland’s Government over its Court ruling effectively limiting the primacy of EU law. The European Commission told Poland that it either complies with the EU court ruling on the Discipline of Judges or it could face financial sanctions and considering that Poland was a huge recipient of Recovery Funds, one only could imagine what the repercussions would be. The EU Commission still has to approve Poland’s and Hungary’s RRF plans.

More on this here.

Hungary’s Referendum on LGBTIQ ‘reforms’

In an unsurprising move, Hungary’s Prime Minister announced a referendum on the LGBTIQ ‘reforms’ introduced which effectively limit LGBTIQ rights in the country. In this move, he will be effectively pitching his people against the European Commission which launched two infringement procedures against Hungary.

More here.

 

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