MEPs will assess the progress made by EU ministers in determining whether rule of law is at risk in Hungary and Poland. Plenary will adopt a resolution on Thursday.
In September 2018, Parliament demanded that the Council act to prevent the Hungarian authorities from breaching the EU’s founding values. MEPs were chiefly concerned about judicial independence, freedom of expression, corruption, rights of minorities, and the situation of migrants and refugees.
In the case of Poland, the European Commission requested EU action in December 2017 in view of the perceived threats to the independence of the judiciary. In a resolution adopted in March 2018, the European Parliament agreed with the Commission on the risks to the rule of law in Poland.
According to Article 7 of the Treaty, following these requests, the Council may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of EU values in the concerned countries. Before doing so, ministers shall hear the views of the national authorities.
EU ministers have held two hearings with the Hungarian government, in September 2019 and December 2019. MEPs have repeatedly complained about not being formally included in these discussions. The Polish authorities have defended themselves in front of the Council on three occasions, between June and December 2018.
At a later stage, the European Council may determine, by unanimity and with the Parliament’s consent, that there is a serious and persistent breach of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. This could eventually lead to sanctions, such as voting rights being suspended in the Council.
Council and Commission statements, with resolution
Debate: Wednesday, 15 January
Vote: Thursday, 16 January