If the Commission won’t act on rule of law, the Parliament will

Adrián Vázquez Lázara is chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs. Sergey Lagodinsky is vice chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs and its standing rapporteur for contentious issues of the European Parliament.

Our European Union was constructed step-by-step. No architect got here up with a grasp plan. Instead, this unprecedented mission advanced regularly over time, adapting to challenges however all the time pursuing its preliminary purpose: preserving peace and stability in Europe.

We should admit, regardless of setbacks and imperfections, it has been a profitable endeavor. Member nations have collectively mitigated numerous political and financial crises with a profitable mixture of willpower and compromises. The outcomes weren’t all the time excellent, however they had been all the time acceptable to everybody. 

Today’s disaster is of a special variety.

It is a disaster of each European democracy and European effectiveness, and it has two penalties that should give us pause: First, foundational treaty obligations — the obligation to uphold democracy, elementary rights and rule of legislation — are being blatantly disregarded by some, on the expense of all. Second, and no much less elementary, the EU’s attribute method to settling disagreements via in search of compromise has confirmed itself at occasions powerless within the face of this alarming development. 

Last week, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal rejected the primacy of EU law over its national legislation, and this isn’t the one instance. We appear doomed to observe governments of member nations —as soon as regarded fashions of democratization — sliding down the drain of authoritarianism and corruption. 

This development is self-destructive for the respective governments and, sadly, for the EU as an entire. The EU wants its member nations and the member nations want their union. 

Brexit has demonstrated how populist propaganda and anti-European sentiment can result in financial disaster. That’s why even because the governments of Poland and Hungary reject fundamental European values, the residents of these nations stay dedicated to the EU and its core rules. After all, belonging to the EU implies not simply freedom but in addition financial and social alternatives, in addition to the required joint energy to reach a globalized world.

Indeed, for the residents of nations prone to sliding into authoritarianism, the EU is greater than a market; they rely on it to guard their rights. And so, we have to act. 

The toolbox now we have at our disposal is giant but in addition largely ineffective: From common reporting over the prolonged infringement procedures to the Article 7 procedures deadlocked within the Council — not one of the devices has proven sufficient tooth to make sure respect for the rule of legislation.

But there may be hope, and it lies with the European Commission. The Commission has been designed to play the position of “guardian of the treaties,” and if it takes this position critically, it may well ship. 

This is what we, within the European Parliament, count on and demand.

Last yr, negotiations on the Union’s seven-year finances introduced a window of alternative for the safety of core European values. In a prolonged course of, the EU lastly adopted the rule of legislation conditionality mechanism, a brand-new software linking respect for the rule of legislation to EU funds. This laws has been in pressure since January 1, 2021, however regretfully, the Commission has made no use of it. 

The Commission has taken some steps in the suitable path. It has requested the imposition of economic penalties on Poland for its misguided judicial reforms, and it has put the Polish and Hungarian restoration plans on maintain. However, within the face of a problem of such magnitude, these measures are usually not sufficient. Now is the time to place into motion what may be the final hope for the various pro-European residents of Hungary and Poland.

So far, the Commission has refused to use this conditionality mechanism. But the European Parliament, as probably the most passionate supporter of the conditionality precept, is not going to ignore its personal duty. 

If the Commission is just not keen to behave, we stand able to take it to the Court of Justice for its failure. Even earlier than the ruling in Poland, our Committee on Legal Affairs was and nonetheless is engaged on defining the grounds for this future authorized motion and is about to concern a suggestion to the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli.

The time for motion is now. The European Parliament should take the lead and use all obtainable means to make sure that the EU stays a bloc of totally democratic nations. Only then lets have the ability to save the democratic soul of the EU.

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