EU Supreme Court rules that Hungarian judge cannot be punished for seeking advice | World news
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – National judges in EU countries cannot be barred from seeking advice from the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court ruled on Tuesday in the case of a Hungarian judge who was sanctioned for doing just that.
EU member Hungary is ruled by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Eurosceptic and nationalist party Fidesz and, like Poland in its north, is trying to restrict the independence of judges and their right to appeal to the European Court.
The Hungarian Supreme Court has declared illegal a request by a Hungarian judge to the ECJ concerning provisions concerning interpreters for foreigners accused of crimes. The judge was subjected to disciplinary proceedings.
“EU law prohibits the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against a national judge on the grounds that he has brought a request for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice”, said the European Court, adding that such disciplinary proceedings could undermine judicial independence.
“On the basis of the rule of EU law, a national court must ignore any national judicial practice which is prejudicial to its right to appeal to the Court of Justice”, declared the Court.
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“The principle of the rule of EU law requires the lower court to disregard the decision of the supreme court of the member state concerned,” the court said.
In July, Hungary rejected a request by the European Commission and many EU lawmakers to repeal new legislation banning schools from using material deemed to promote homosexuality.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on Budapest to respect the EU’s values of tolerance or to leave the bloc.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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