EU: NGO letter to EU Ministers on continued rule of law backsliding in Poland and Hungary

The International Commissions of Jurists joined by Amnesty International, FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), Human Rights Watch, Open Society Foundations, RECLAIM and Transparency International EU have sent an open letter to EU Ministers on continued rule of law backsliding in Poland and Hungary

The organizations write:

As the next EU General Affairs Council prepares to hold a hearing on 30 May 2023 on the situation in Poland and Hungary under the Article 7.1 TEU procedure, the undersigned civil society organisations would like to draw your attention to recent developments regarding the rule of law and human rights in both countries, with a particular focus on Poland, whose situation has not been examined in a long time.

Since the Council last discussed the situation in 2022, both member states have adopted measures in response to EU scrutiny. However, the limited progress made in some areas fails to address many standing concerns with regard to the rule of law and other Article 2 TEU values and to prevent a breach of these values in Poland and Hungary.

Indeed, despite the various monitoring mechanisms activated since the Article 7.1 TEU procedures were launched in 2017 and 2018 respectively, the backsliding in both countries has not come to a halt. While past and ongoing legal actions and budget conditionality procedures testify to persistent EU law violations, the Polish and Hungarian governments’ consistent refusal to comply with European courts’ rulings and with the conditions set out by the Commission demonstrate a continued disregard for the norms and principles common to all the member states and on which the Union is founded. Member states’ failure to take a firm position under Article 7.1 TEU has minimised the procedure’s potential to impel a change of course for these member states, while allowing the rule of law and human rights situation in both countries to further deteriorate.

Our organisations urge the Council to hold the Polish and Hungarian governments to account by using the powers conferred to them under the Treaties, thus fulfilling the strong mandate to act given to the Council by the European Commission and Parliament. As civil society representatives, we call on your government to take a stance on the persistent risk to Article 2 TEU values by adopting recommendations on the issues raised in the European Commission’s reasoned opinion on Poland and the European Parliament’s reasoned opinion on Hungary and other issues that have emerged since in connection with Article 2 TEU. Absent concrete results, we encourage you to support a four-fifth vote under Article 7.1 TEU that would enable EU institutions to further examine and determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach of EU values under article 7.2 TEU. (…)

See the full letter here: NGO Open Letter to EU Ministers_30MayGAC[40]

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