“Today’s vote gives hope of putting European values back at the centre of EU’s agenda,” - declares Leonie Martin, Vice President of JEF Europe.
Today, the European Parliament has held a historical and one of the most debated and contested votes on the rule of law - it is the first time that the Parliament aims to activate the procedure under Article 7 TEU, which in the long run can strip a Member State of its voting rights in the Council. The report by the Green MEP Judith Sargentini was adopted with the ? majority, a success that was doubted even by the most optimistic members of the civil society.
“The unity of the Members of the European Parliament in upholding European values by going beyond party politics is an important signal to us, the European citizens ahead of the European elections. Today shows: democratically elected institutions will not any longer follow the voices of those Member States that fail to uphold the European values that #OurEurope is based on,” - continues Martin.
The time to “listen to each other” and “find compromises” among the EPP and its member party Fidesz is over. “The leadership of the EPP has been turning a blind eye on the situation in Hungary for too long”, Martin says. “Upholding the European values and thus respecting the rule of law deserves full support by all political parties - critical self-reflection amongst its own members and owning up to it needs to be part of this.”
The success of the report is in large thanks to the positive vote of some of the EPP MEPs, who were disappointed with the uncompromising rhetorics in the speech by Prime Minister Orbán the day before. The EPP member parties finally put an end to Orban’s nationalistic policies by taking a stand in line with their own Statutes which expresses that the EPP respects ‘human, rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law’ and promotes the ‘the process of unification and federal integration in Europe’.
The success of the vote is, however, only a tiny step in the complicated procedure to activate Article 7 procedure against Hungary. This once again reaffirms that EU’s legal framework still remains ill-equipped to deal with the violation of the rule of law in Member States. Even if the Parliament succeeded to reach the needed majority, it cannot act unilaterally; meaning this political win does not meant the full prevalence of the rule of law. In the current framework of Article 7 procedure the EU is virtually unable to sanction gross violations of EU fundamental values, requiring an unanimous vote in the Council to be activated.
More information on JEF Europe
The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with over 13.000 members active in more than 35 countries. Founded in 1972, the organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy, subsidiarity and rule of law. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. JEF Europe, as a member of the platform “Civil Society Europe”, campaigned as part of the #VoteYES4Hungary alliance.
What is the so-called Art. 7 procedure?
The Article 7 TEU procedure allows for EU institutions to flag a clear risk of a serious breach (Art. 7(1) TEU) and of the existence of a serious and persistent breach of EU values (Art. 7(2) TEU). In case the latter has been determined, the Council, meaning the EU Member States, may decide to suspend certain rights of the Member State, e.g. voting rights in the Council.
Recent Statements by JEF Europe on this topic
April 10, 2018
May 9, 2017
April 4, 2017
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#OurEurope respects the rule of law.