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S&Ds: Don't let Poland and Hungary off the hook. Defending the rule of law and democracy is more important than ever!

Date

04 May 2022

Sections

Justice & Home Affairs

While the brutal Russian war against Ukraine continues, we are all heartened by the outpouring of solidarity shown towards refugees by citizens and civil society in Poland and Hungary. Yet the rule of law and democracy is being further and further dismantled by the governments in both countries.

This is why the Socialists and Democrats urged today the member states and the European Commission not to compromise on common European values, and to make full use of all the instruments the European Union has to defend democracy in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere in Europe. 

In a resolution voted on Thursday, the EP will demand that the Council takes the Article 7 (1) procedure to the next level, and adopts - by qualified majority - concrete recommendations to Poland and Hungary. The draft text, already agreed by main political groups, insists that both the Commission and the Council refrain from approving recovery funds for Poland and Hungary, under the Recovery Resilience Facility, until there is real improvement on the ground. In addition, the resolution also calls for the rule of law conditionality mechanism, which was finally triggered in the case of Hungary at the end of April, to now be immediately applied in the case of Poland.   

Katarina Barley, EP vice-president and the S&D negotiator of the resolution, said in the plenary:   

“The European Union is more than economic cooperation. It is, as the European Treaties make clear, a union founded on shared values: democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the rights of minorities. This is crucial: democracy means that the majority has the right to make the rules. But as a majority, you also have to respect the rights of those who are different to yourself, who think differently, who look differently, who believe differently. That is exactly what the EU is all about. Unfortunately, the governments of Poland and Hungary have a track record of violating those values and rights. I want to make this clear: It is not the people of Poland and Hungary, who are currently so admirably taking care of refugees from Ukraine, it is the governments.

“In Hungary, we haven't seen fair elections for the last 9 years and the corruption and the embezzlement of EU funds is out of control. In Poland, the PiS government has been abolishing the independence of the judiciary for 7 years and it is now also undermining the Union’s legal order and negating the founding primacy of EU-law. These are the facts and this must stop! It is about protecting all of us: protecting our shared and the union’s legal order. The citizens in the Conference on the Future of Europe have identified this as crucial for the future of the European Union.

“As the European Parliament, we are demanding three things from the Council: First, be transparent. Second, follow up on the hearings under Article 7 with concrete recommendations to the member states in question. No unanimity is needed for this. Third, consider the facts that are already there: the many reports by independent experts, by EU institutions, the judgements by the European Court of Justice. The Council must act! You owe this to the 450 million EU citizens and to the many more people who look to the EU for its values, who want to become a part of our Union because of its values, and who fight and give their lives to defend those same values. 

 

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