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MEPs demand EU sanctions against Hungary

MEPs demand EU sanctions against Hungary

Viktor Orban - © European Union 2015 - source EP

(STRASBOURG) - The human rights situation in Hungary justifies the triggering of an 'Article 7' procedure which may result in sanctions for Hungary, the European Parliament said in a resolution adopted on Wednesday.

At their plenary debate in Strasbourg, MEPs said Hungary's current fundamental rights situation justified launching a formal procedure to determine whether there is a "clear risk of a serious breach" of EU values by a Member State.

MEPs say recent developments in Hungary have led to a serious deterioration in the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. This, they say, is testing the EU's ability to defend "its founding values".

Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union provides a mechanism to enforce EU values. Under Article 7(1), the Council may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of EU values by a Member State and is intended to prevent an actual breach by addressing specific recommendations to the Member State in question. This can be triggered by one third of EU Member States, by Parliament or by the Commission. The Council has to adopt a decision by a four-fifths majority after having received Parliament's consent which also requires a two-thirds majority of the votes cast and an absolute majority of MEPs.

The next phase is Article 7(2), by which an actual breach of EU values can be determined by the Council on a proposal by a third of Member States or the Commission. The Council needs to decide by unanimity and the Parliament needs to give its consent. Article 7(3) launches sanctions, such as the suspension of voting rights in the Council.

The resolution calls for:

  • the launching of Article 7(1). MEPs instruct the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to draw up a formal resolution for a plenary vote
  • the Hungarian Government to repeal laws tightening rules against asylum-seekers and non-governmental organisations, and to reach an agreement with the US authorities, making it possible for Central European University to remain in Budapest as a free institution
  • the European Commission to strictly monitor the use of EU funds by the Hungarian Government

Further information, European Parliament

The adopted text will be available here (Click on 17 May)

Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union - Article 7

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