- Parliament calls for “genuine commitment” and progress in the Council
- Recommendations to member states should be swiftly adopted, with clear deadlines after hearings
- Unanimity is not required to identify risks of a serious breach of EU values
- No approval of national plans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility until progress is made
On Thursday, the European Parliament called for the Council and the Commission to take more action to address the deterioration of EU values in Hungary and Poland.
In a resolution adopted with 426 votes to 133 and 37 abstentions, MEPs welcome that the French Presidency resumed conducting hearings under Article 7(1) of the Treaty but urge the Council to show “genuine commitment” and make “meaningful progress” to protect European values. They insist that Hungary and Poland’s failure to implement the numerous judgements made by the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights is unacceptable; all member states have to respect EU law, they note.
Hearings must produce results
The text calls for the hearings to be conducted with a more consistent, transparent and firm approach. The hearings should be organised in a regular, structured and open manner and must entail concrete follow-up, swift adoption of recommendations, with clear deadlines, to the member states in question. It emphasises that “unanimity is not required in the Council to identify a clear risk of a serious breach of Union values”.
MEPs once again demand that the Council keep Parliament promptly and fully informed at every stage, which has not been the case so far. There is an imminent need for a comprehensive EU mechanism for EU values, they reiterate, condemning the refusal of the other institutions to enter into negotiations with the Parliament to devise such a tool.
High time to use all tools available to protect EU values
The Commission must also do better, according to Parliament, which notes that it started a formal procedure against Hungary under the Conditionality Regulation in April, but not for Poland. MEPs expect the Council to deal with this as a matter of priority.
Further, MEPs call on both institutions to refrain from approving Hungary and Poland’s national plans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility. This should only happen when both countries comply fully with all European Semester recommendations in the field of rule of law, and only after they implement all relevant judgements.
In the ongoing Article 7 procedures, the French Presidency of the Council organised one hearing with the Polish Government in February, while another with Hungarian authorities will take place in June. In December 2017, the European Commission initiated the procedure for Poland. Parliament backed this move in a resolution in March 2018, and triggered the procedure for Hungary in September 2018. Despite the deteriorating situation in both countries in recent years, member states have avoided voting to determine whether there is “a clear risk of a serious breach” of the EU’s common values.