The European Parliament is taking on Poland and Hungary over its failure to respect European values of democracy and rule of law – and two of Malta’s MEPs insist that the EU was left with no other choice.
In a resolution voted on 5th May, the EP is demanding that the Council takes the Article 7 (1) procedure to the next level, and adopts – by qualified majority – concrete recommendations to Poland and Hungary.
MEPs are insisting that both the Commission and the Council refrain from approving recovery funds for Poland and Hungary, under the Recovery Resilience Facility, until there is a real improvement.
The resolution also calls for the rule of law conditionality mechanism, which was finally triggered in the case of Hungary at the end of April, to now be immediately applied in the case of Poland.
Lovin Malta reached out to MEPs Cyrus Engerer and David Casa to get their take on the issue:
“Europe’s values are not à la carte and we have repeatedly stated that what is happening in Hungary and Poland against citizens is unacceptable,” Engerer said.
“When other Member States, including Malta, had Rule of Law issues, the European Parliament and Commission always found cooperation from the Maltese authorities. Not the same happens with Poland and Hungary, who consistently and persistently violate our common rights and values.”
“Our Union is not merely an economic one. Our Treaties speak of a Union founded on the shared values of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the respect.”
“As the European Parliament, we are demanding three things from the Council: First, be transparent. Second, follow up on the hearings under Article 7 with concrete recommendations to the Member States in question. Finally, consider the facts that are already there: the many reports by independent experts, by EU institutions, the judgements by the European Court of Justice. The Council must act!”
Casa seemingly agreed, insisting that the EU was left in no position but to kickstart the major actions.
“The European Parliament has been on the forefront for enforcing standards in democracy and the rule of law. Earlier in March, MEPs voted overwhelmingly to urge the European Commission to enforce the Rule of Law Conditionality Mechanism on Poland and Hungary. This was far from a sudden or disproportionate move. Article 7 was already engaged after breaches of the rule of law were found by the Commission. Since then, we have had multiple court rulings pointing to an institutional takeover of the judiciary by the political class in breach of EU law,” he said.
“The position of the European Parliament is that this could not be allowed to just happen. The European Union is no cash cow. It is unjust that Member States that show a flagrant disregard for democratic norms are treated in the same way as those with a proven commitment to the rule of law.”
“At the heart of the European Union are principles that guarantee human dignity, the same principles that have allowed the EU to grow and exist in the way it does. A serious breach of any fundamental right in any one of the member states poses a grave threat to the whole of the Union.”
“The mechanism was not a happy consequence, but an entirely necessary one. This is not just about punishing those states who deviate from norms, but about upholding principles in practice. It is just as much about pushing back against undemocratic behaviour as much as it is about safeguarding a community for whom these breaches are a threat.”
“Nobody wants to see funding cut to Polish and Hungarian people who would benefit from it. But this is a risk that the Polish and Hungarian governments are taking to the detriment of their own people. If Poland and Hungary insist on funds to stave off the crises which are gripping our continent, then they should also concern themselves with ending a crisis of their own making, over which they have full control, and which continually threatens the fundamental rights of every EU citizen.”
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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