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László Kövér admits: Administrative courts not off the table

Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament and chairman of Fidesz's governing board László Kövér said that the establishment of administrative courts was only taken off the agenda until the international disputes around Hungary's rule-of-law situation settle.

Kövér told news station Inforádió that postponing the law

"has nothing to do with the quality of the regulation, but only with the irrational pressure and series of attacks against Hungary on account of the judicial reforms."

László Kövér also stated that as they believe that the judicial branch would be better due to the reforms, so when the time is right, they will deal with the law once again, however,

that is not to be expected in the following year.

As we have reported, Chief of Staff Gergely Gulyás announced postponing the overhaul of the judicial system, meaning the implementation of the law passed in December after a year of planning which would have established the administrative courts by 1 January 2020. That same night, the bill postponing the reform appeared on the Parliament's website and was passed officially on 2 July.

Although the explanatory memorandum of that bill already referenced that the government decided so due to international pressure, as it states that"The goal of this proposal is to make sure that the continued progress in the establishment of the separate administrative court system does not hamper the efforts of reassuringly settling the disputes about the unfounded criticisms against Hungary's rule-of-law situation," this is the first time László Kövér admits that this move was only meant to sidestep international partners.

There were already rumours going around that after the next seven-year EU budget is approved - in which certain political groups want to tie some funds to rule-of-law prerequisites - Fidesz would reheat their plan of administrative courts. This may show that

NOT EVEN VIKTOR ORBÁN HIMSELF BELIEVES THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURTS, IN THEIR CURRENT FORM, WOULD SATISFY THE EUROPEAN EXPECTATIONS OF JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE.

Although it is far from being the only complaint made against Hungarian rule-of-law, many in the European Union criticised the concept for intending to place the judiciary in a position dependent on politics, as this parallel court system would have been operating under the supervision of the Minister of Justice who would have had the chance to influence appointments and promotions.

The law passed last December would have created the administrative courts separate from the regular court system and would have made the new tribunals competent in all lawsuits filed against the state, including, but not limited to cases concerning the elections, public data requests, strikes, and taxes.

Hungary's rank perceived judicial independence scores in the European Commission's Justice Scoreboard have been on the decline in recent years, and  European Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová noted at the end of April that establishing administrative courts would further jeopardise judicial independence.

By the way, in the radio programme, Lászó Kövér originally started speaking about whether or not Fidesz will remain within the European People's Party. He said that Fidesz wishes to stay in the group, because the party has a better chance of shaping the future from within their ranks, however, it is not yet a decided question.

As Kövér said,

"The case isn't that the EPP is important for Fidesz, it is that Fidesz is important for the EPP."

This article is a direct translation of the original published in Hungarian by Index.

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