The European Court of Justice (CJEU) dismissed Hungary’s action against the European Parliament resolution triggering the procedure for determining the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach, by a member state, of the values on which the European Union is founded (the Article 7 procedure).
On 12 September 2018, the European Parliament adopted Judith Sargentini’s report which called on the Council of the EU to trigger the Article 7 procedure, capable of leading to the suspension of certain rights resulting from EU membership. Taking the view that, when calculating the votes cast, the EP should have taken account of the abstentions, Hungary brought an action under Article 263 TFEU for annulment of that resolution.
According to the CJEU, MEPs’ abstentions do not have to be counted in order to determine whether the majority of two thirds of the votes cast.
“In our view, the vote was not only contrary to EU Treaties, but also to the EP’s own Rules of Procedure,” Justice Minister Judit Varga wrote on Facebook.
If abstentions had been taken into account when determining the proportion of votes in favour, which is based on clear procedural rules that would otherwise be easily identifiable even for a first-year law student, the two-thirds majority to adopt a politically biased report would not have been reached, she explained. “As we all know, abstention means a tacit disagreement. It is the conscious political will of MEPs and not their unwillingness to vote. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even go to the polls. The irregular way of counting votes thus also violated the principle of the free mandate of deputies, thereby “contributing” to the success of a decision against their will, “ Varga stressed.
“However, the interest of Sargentini dictated the EP to ignore these votes. We may remember the interview in which the rapporteur herself asked potential abstainers to go out for coffee during the vote,” the minister reminded.
“It is also interesting to note that it has taken almost three years for a court ruling on such a simple procedural issue, while in another case, the extremely complex issue of the Rule of Law Conditionality Mechanism, the EP itself is calling for the Court’s decision-making process to be speeded up. Slightly contradictory,” Varga added.
Source: Hungary Journal