Can there be an Autocratic EU member state? Is Hungary one Today?
Debate with Judith Sargentini, European Parliament member and Rapporteur for the report on suspending accession talks with Turkey
the 12th of September 2018 the European Parliament voted on the so called Sargentini Report, condemning the anti-democratic turn of Hungary and initiating the procedure related to Article 7 (1) of the Treaty on the European Union.
The vote and the report have drawn huge attention to the continuous democratic erosion in Hungary, and Orbán and his government have received open criticism that is much harsher than ever before.
Judith Sargentini is a European Parliament Member from Groenlinks, in the Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance. She is the rapporteur of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, that published this report calling on the Council to determine the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded.
The sanctions that could potentially follow this step would be the strongest action the EU can take when there is a clear risk that a Member State is seriously breaching fundamental values such as democracy, the rule of law or respect for human rights. The report is based on regional and international court decisions, previous reports by EU and UN bodies and institutions, statements from local and international NGOs, and many interviews conducted in the field.
The European Union established the sanctions mechanism of Article 7 via the 1999 Treaty of Amsterdam. The EU introduced this mechanism one year after beginning negotiations regarding accession to the EU with post-communist countries of Eastern Europe in order to provide the Union with a means of penalising member states if violated the fundamental values stipulated in Article 2 of the TEU.
The Article 7 sanctions mechanism represents the European Union’s most severe means of penalising a member state. Suspension of voting rights in the Council of the European Union and the European Council represent the harshest penalties that can be imposed on an EU member state via this sanctions mechanism. The European Union has no institutional mechanism for expelling a member state from the EU.