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Weber Calls on European Council to Put Article 7 Proceedings on Agenda, Fidesz Agrees

Fanni Kaszás 2020.02.12.

Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, Chairman of the EPP Group Manfred Weber said he would put the Article 7 procedures against Hungary and Poland on the agenda of the European Council. He said that “it is scandalous that the EC does not deal with Article 7 procedures.”

According to Weber, finding a solution together would serve the shared values of the European Union. He called it scandalous and a breach of European treaties that the European Council is yet to put the procedures on the agenda. He called on Council head Charles Michel to take all necessary steps to close the procedures scrutinizing the state of the rule of law in the two countries as soon as possible. Weber moreover agreed that in the next seven-year budget the payment of EU grants should be subject to a condition system based on the rule of law.

Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch on Tuesday welcomed the call of Weber concerning the Article 7 procedures against Hungary and Poland in the name of Fidesz. Deutsch tweeted that the Hungarian government has long been calling for a speedy debate and closure of the procedure, writing “the witch hunt must be ended.”

Örs Farkas, spokesperson for the Government Communication Centre also commented on Weber’s call on Tuesday at the public service television news channel M1, saying the Hungarian government has nothing to fear in the procedure under Article 7. He highlighted that the EPP leader said that the European Council will have to find a common solution in the interest of protecting the common interests of the EU.

Farkas added that “this is a political campaign that those in Brussels have for years attacked Hungary due to certain measures it has implemented, in particular, due to its position on the issue of migration.” He said Hungary has taken firm action against migration in the past few weeks, and this is the response, the spokesperson said, observing that he was not surprised by Weber’s statement.

In September 2018, the European Parliament approved a report prepared by Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini triggering an Article 7 procedure against Hungary. The mechanism aims to uphold the fundamental rights and values of the European Union. The rule states that if these rights are permanently and severely violated, a procedure could be initiated which could even end in one of the most serious political sanctions – a suspension of the member state’s voting rights in the EU. This is why it is often called the EU’s ‘nuclear option.’ While identifying the violation requires unanimity (excluding the accused country), sanctions require only a qualified majority.

The procedure focuses on the state of the freedom of speech, corruption, minority rights, the independence of the judiciary, and the situation of migrants and asylum seekers in the country. The same procedure against Poland was launched in July 2017 and scrutinized the independence of the Polish judiciary.

featured photo: Manfred Weber Twitter