European Commission First Vice-president Frans Timmermans said during a press conference following an EU affairs meeting in Brussels that he has no doubt that incoming Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen will be as tough a defender of the rule of law as current President Jean-Claude Juncker.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that [the ]next commission under the leadership of von der Leyen, will be as forceful, as concrete, as clear, as determined as the present commission, on the basis of what she said publicly,” said Timmermans, who added,”I couldn’t possibly be part of a Commission that would relinquish the fight against threats to the rule of law. The fact that I am being considered to be on the Commission is an indication that it will be as clear (in its fight to uphold legal norms) as the current Commission.”
During Thursday’s council meeting of EU affairs ministers, Germany and France publicly chastised Poland for actions that led to the European Commission having activated the Article 7 procedure on the rule of law, due to the country’s disciplinary proceedings against judges.
Representatives from both Germany and France were highly critical of Poland, saying the Polish government has not taken care of the steps needed to align with the proposals of the European Court of Justice and the European Commission after Warsaw failed to adequately respond to the ministers’ questions.
According to a diplomatic source, the Hungarian minister has claimed that the EU has zero competence to control member states on the rule of law and that doing so, the EU needs to apply changes to the Treaties. Vice-president Timmermans, along with many other ministers, reiterated that this is one of the main competences of the European Commission, as the guardian of the Treaties.