Joint assessment of Hungary’s judicial reforms

On 3 May 2023, the Hungarian Parliament adopted Act X of 2023 on the Amendment of Certain Laws on Justice related to the Hungarian Recovery and Resilience Plan. The Hungarian government now claims to have met all four of the so-called super milestones aimed at restoring the independence of the judiciary set by the Council of the European Union as a precondition for accessing frozen EU funds under Hungary’s Recovery and Resilience Fund (RRF).

As assessed by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Amnesty International Hungary, and the Eötvös Károly Institute, the Reform is a remarkable step forward compared to the draft proposal published by the Hungarian government for public consultation in January 2023. While the proposal reflected the Hungarian government’s intention to avoid compliance with those super milestones that demand core changes in the judicial system, the adopted Reform in general shows a willingness to fulfill these conditions.

Nevertheless, compliance with the super milestones is still deficient under the Reform.

These remaining deficiencies cannot be deemed as minor in any case. The judicial reform expected by the super milestones is of exceptional importance as it is rooted in long-standing rule of law concerns and forms a legal minimum for the restoration of the independence of the Hungarian judiciary. Thus, compliance with the super milestones — constituting minimum standards for the restoration of the independence of the Hungarian judiciary — should be assessed with particular care and without compromise, no matter their technical nature. The main shortcomings of the Reform also signal that the Hungarian government’s willingness to comply with the conditions for union funds is not paired with a true commitment to restoring the rule of law.

The joint assessment prepared by three CSOs points out the main deficiencies of the Reform and calls attention to future risks and prospects to be considered in restoring the independence of the judiciary.

The joint assessment of the adopted Reform is available here.

A summary table of the compliance with relevant milestones is also available here.