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Maciej Bernatt, Alison Jones, Populism and public procurement: an EU response to increased corruption and collusion risks in Hungary and Poland, Yearbook of European Law, Volume 41, 2022, Pages 11–47


This article examines how illiberal changes, both in the political system and the economy, by populist governments in Hungary and Poland are increasing the risk of corruption and collusion in public procurement processes in those countries. It notes that these developments have significant consequences not only for Hungary and Poland, but also for the EU both generally, in terms of their impact on EU law and fundamental values, and specifically in relation to its finances. It thus considers what role EU law can play in reducing, mitigating, or reversing these risks. It offers several recommendations of a legal-systemic and more practical nature. The article recognises that although many steps taken by the EU to date have failed to deliver meaningful change, the EU does possess a powerful toolkit which, if fully utilised, provide the means to challenge individual cases of suspected corruption and collusion in Hungary and Poland (and other Member States), and systematic and serious violations of EU law through legal actions and financial mechanisms. It also makes proposals designed to protect EU funds better from misuse in national public procurement processes, including through closer cooperation between EU and national agencies, more proactive, real-time monitoring of processes, the use of integrity pacts, and the development of the EU’s early detection and exclusion and remedies systems.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.