September 30, 2023


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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