The executive arm of the European Union has expressed concern over the election of an ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as president of the country's Supreme Court.
Parliament on October 19 appointed Andras Varga as president of the Supreme Court for the next nine years, despite the national council of judges rejecting his nomination over his lack of experience and concerns over the independence of the judiciary.
Pointing to a recent European Commission report raising concerns over the independence of the Hungarian judiciary, commission spokesperson Christian Wigand said on October 20 that the "latest developments only confirm our concerns."
Wigand cited moves to lower eligibility criteria for the appointment of the supreme court president and other members and to increase parliamentary oversight over the judiciary as of particular concern.
"We will continue to follow developments closely," he added.
Varga is due to assume office at the beginning of 2021.
In recent years he has served as a deputy to state prosecutor Peter Polt, another Orban loyalist who has been criticized by the EU for ignoring calls to investigate corruption allegations against politicians and businessmen.
Orban’s government has repeatedly clashed with the EU over its moves to increase state control of the judiciary, media, nongovernmental organizations, and academia.