Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!
Although expected, the decision raises questions about how effective EU bodies are in upholding a commitment to common values.21 February 2018
The Hungarian parliament on Tuesday expressed “solidarity” with Poland through a vote of support for its neighbor in a disagreement with the EU over the rule of law, Origo.hu reports.
Poland has attracted the ire of the EU on numerous occasions since the 2015 election of the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), but Warsaw’s decision to overhaul the country’s judiciary has proved particularly controversial.
PiS leaders say that reform is needed to make the judicial system more efficient. The EU has countered that the changes, already approved by parliament, would violate the separation of powers and give the government too much control over the functioning of the court system.
The issue has come to symbolize contentious questions about the degree to which EU countries, and particularly new member states to the East, should have to fall in line with broader EU values that countries such as Hungary and Poland are vocal in opposing as misplaced liberalism.
Before the motion was passed, the Hungarian parliament heard from government representatives that the EU’s actions against Poland were “beyond the mandate of European law” and that the triggering of Article 7 would set a “dangerous precedent,” according to Origo.hu.
According to Radio Poland, the resolution read: “We are calling on the Hungarian government to support Poland, to prevent the rights guaranteed to Poland under EU Articles from being diminished, and to oppose proposals which would restrict the fundamental rights Poland enjoys as an EU member.”
The application of Article 7 is the EU’s most powerful sanctioning tool. It is a multi-stage process that can ultimately lead to a member state being temporarily stripped of its voting rights if it is found to have "seriously and persistently" violated the EU’s core values.
However, all member states must vote unanimously for this motion to pass, which essentially gives each member veto power.
Article 7 has never been applied in the history of the European Union.
Beata Mazurek, a spokeswoman for PiS, said that the resolution "shows that there will now be no talk of sanctions against Poland,” according to Radio Poland.
Summer journalism program: Going on Assignment in Prague: Practical training by respected journalists and media professionals. Not yet decided whether to join us for our July 2018 course? Don't hesitate! Apply or check our website for more info
The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.
This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes.
It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.