MEPs on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) voted to trigger Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) against Hungary in the light of the country’s ‘illiberal’ descent away from democracy. Article 7 is a mechanism that ensures “all EU countries respect the common values of the EU”: its purpose is thus to mitigate and prevent Member States from backsliding on European values and the rule law. After a formal warning from the EU Council and table recommendations addressed to the country in question, Member States must decide unanimously to launch sanctions and suspend voting rights.
MEP Judith Sargentini, the author of the report supporting the disciplinary procedure, stated that “the rights of the Hungarian people to free speech and equality under the law must be protected from Orbán’s desire to drive the country into authoritarianism”. The Sargentini report comes a week after Hungarian Parliament’s approval of a package of strong anti-immigration laws. Being adopted with 37 to 19 votes, the report officially calls for Member States to examine if the recent developments in the country constitute a “clear risk of a serious breach” of fundamental EU values. The documents indicates indeed that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government actions have led to a serious deterioration in the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. Also the independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression and the media, freedom of academic institutions seem to be at risk, and furthers concerns rise as for the state-level corruption and the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers. For Article 7 TEU to be triggered against Hungary, two thirds of MEPs would have vote in favour in plenary session of the Parliament. However, as Orbán’s party, Fidesz is a member of the largest political grouping in the Parliament, the European People’s party (EPP),there is no certaintyon the outcome of the vote which is expected to take place in September.
For further information:
Reporters without borders – https://rsf.org/en/news/hungary-meps-vote-use-article-7-against-hungarian-premier-viktor-orban