“Establishing the structure of the justice system falls within a national sphere of competence and the institutions of the European Union have no mandate to interfere in a concrete manner in the construction of this framework”, Minister of Justice László Trócsányi said in reply to questions from American news agency Bloomberg.

“The most important thing is that the independence of judges must be assured, and this is a standard that can never be eroded”, the Minister added in his e-mail reply, according to Bloomberg’s report dated 12 June.

The news agency recalled that since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán returned to power in 2010 he has been involved in disputes with the European Commission on several occasions for extending the influence of the government to institutions that had previously been independent, including in part the judiciary. In response, the EU began investigating the rule of law in certain member states, and is currently considering making the payment of funding dependent on the fulfilment of certain rule of law requirements.

“The EU would be going too far with such a measure”, Mr. Trócsányi said. “Great care must be taken with the concept of the rule of law, particularly if it is treated as the foundation for punitive measures. The European Commission is increasingly striving to play a political role. If we allow politicians to evaluate (the quality of the rule of law), then those decisions will have a political hue, which is clearly unacceptable”, Mr. Trócsányi explained in his reply to the news agency.

The Minister also cautioned the EU from interfering in the dispute that has developed with relation to the appointment of judges. “This must be settled at national level, not at EU level. I think it is inappropriate and unacceptable for people to take an internal, domestic issue outside the country’s borders”, Mr. Trócsányi wrote.

The Orbán government’s latest plan with relation to the reorganisation of the court system is the establishment of a public administration court that would operate separately from traditional courts. The Government’s argument is that it would be in the interests of Hungarian citizens because it would enable procedures to be conducted more rapidly and efficiently. Critics of the Government claim the Cabinet’s goal is to erode the independence of judges, the news agency indicated. Previously, the President of the Supreme Court was removed from office, a top body to rule on organisational issues, the National Office for the Judiciary, was established and given a wide scope of authority, in addition to which the scope of authority of the Constitutional Court was restricted and government-affiliated judges were appointed, Bloomberg wrote.