Some elements of the proposed approach, such as the central role attributed to an independent expert panel in the proposed pact, also raise questions of legality, institutional legitimacy and accountability. Moreover, from a practical and political point of view, it may also be very difficult to find common ground on such an interinstitutional agreement between all the parties concerned.
I hope we can all agree that a long institutional debate on new mechanisms is the last thing we need right now. We have a range of existing tools and actors that already provide a set of complementary and effective means to address rule of law issues. As you know, in March the Commission adopted a rule of law framework.
We are currently applying this framework in the case of Poland for the first time. The Commission takes protecting the rule of law very seriously. The Commission also organises an annual fundamental rights colloquium, involving European institutions, Member States, international organisations and civil society.
We also have a number of other actors, apart from the Council — the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission, the Agency for Fundamental Rights and a host of NGOs active in the field of fundamental rights. They all contribute to the monitoring of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in our Member States. We should make their contributions stronger. We should also make the best possible use of these existing instruments, evaluate them, look where we see deficiencies and then take steps towards the creation of a new mechanism — only after that evaluation, I would say.
I very much look forward to hearing your views. But let me also stress again what I think is crucial. We need to avoid division around our common values as clearly set out in the Treaties and work with our various partners to build a consensus. Protecting the fundamental values of the Union is a collective responsibility of all institutions.
The existing treaties give us the tools so let us use them. At the end of the day, this is a very political process. Without full integral application of the rule of law across the European Union, the European Union is doomed because the rule of law is the fundament upon which this construction is built. If we disregard the rule of law, there is nothing to keep the European Union together, other than naked power politics. That will be to the detriment of the smaller, of the minorities, of the weaker, and of the individual citizens.
We cannot let that happen. A human rights mechanism has three necessary conditions to meet if it is to be successful, and this is what I would very much like to see myself. First of all, it must have a legal base, giving it immunity from political interference. It follows that this mechanism will only acquire legitimacy if it is not used to target Member States in order to punish them. Secondly, the mechanism must be completely even-handed as between Member States.
The slightest hint of different treatment will delegitimise it, so no cherry picking, no opportunistic targeting. This, of course, will require continuous monitoring. The third is consistency of implementation, but here a balance has to be struck between subsidiarity and all European practice. Too much of the latter runs a danger of centralisation — the Jacobin temptation. If the Jacobins get their way, there is no chance at all that the rule-of-law culture will take root in the European Union. That to me is the best proof that this is exactly the moment in which we need to kick off a process of engagement towards finding a veritable and a true European logic of governance, because we may not be there yet, as we discover far too often when we see governance trends in certain European countries, as has been the case over the last month and as may be the case again.
Who, at the end of the day, is going to protect us from what happened in the inter-war period — when one country after another, for reasons of their own, drifted off into extremely problematic governmental orientations — with what we have now. With the generalised unanimity requirement that is on the table to engage whatsoever with respect to any sort of state, we would be doing essentially nothing and that would be dramatic. It would be dramatic as a sign to the millions of Europeans who nowadays look towards Europe and to this House as the only — the only — buoy of stability; if it is about guaranteeing that elections in the future change policies, yes, but not the nature of their state.
This is something that is aimed at ensuring continuity of statehood, of institutions, of impartiality of state against electoral result, if need be, and against those who believe that saving the Occident is more important than saving their own citizens from arbitrary governance. This is a necessary mechanism. This is something that we can now embrace. This is something that we now should embrace and this is something for which Parliament has taken time to converge towards but it is good that it has finally done so.
Es necesario este tipo de mecanismos. Hoy se inicia una parte del camino que ustedes van a tener que recorrer y, si no lo hacen, nosotros vamos a estar vigilantes para decirles que deben realizarlo. Mire, puede ocurrir que haya sociedades que confirmen con sus votos a los corruptos, a los negacionistas e incluso a los asesinos.
Nosotros no queremos un enfoque ni permisivo ni indiferente. Il nuovo meccanismo ha tale scopo e per questo lo giudico positivo, dall'inizio della grande crisi non si parla d'altro che di fare i compiti a casa, ma i compiti sono solo economici quasi mai la democrazia costituzionale figura tra i doveri primari. Un meccanismo simile mancava. Nel negoziato ho chiesto che le istituzioni europee siano vagliate come gli Stati.
Presenteremo emendamenti che aggiungano queste garanzie. Es ist mir auch wichtig, mit diesem Bericht, mit dieser Forderung jetzt klarzumachen, dass das nicht nur gegen die sogenannten neuen Mitgliedstaaten geht — also Polen und Ungarn. Es gibt auch in den alten Mitgliedstaaten Dinge, die nicht in Ordnung sind: der Ausnahmezustand in Frankreich, das Demonstrationsverbot in Spanien oder vor einigen Jahren unter Berlusconi die Medienmacht des Herrn Premierministers damals. Das war auch nicht in Ordnung.
Wir brauchen so einen gemeinsamen Pakt. Es freut mich, dass es gelungen ist, diesen Bericht so zu machen. Es ist schade, dass uns dieses Ampelsystem mit den Farben nicht gelungen ist. Aber es freut mich auch, dass wir hier im Ausschuss und hoffentlich auch heute zu Mittag wirklich eine breite Mehrheit gefunden haben, und die einzigen, die wirklich massiv dagegen waren, die ENF war.
Es war wirklich eine super Kooperation. Dare to think big! Quando si parla di diritti fondamentali non possiamo attendere che avvenga la violazione per poi intraprendere delle iniziative, bisogna prevenire e bisogna tutelare i diritti fondamentali su tutto il territorio europeo. Gilles Lebreton, au nom du groupe ENF. Bruno Gollnisch NI. Barbara Kudrycka PPE. Panie Komisarzu! Anstatt die Polen auf die Anklagebank zu setzen, sollte man die deutsche Regierung mal auf die Couch eines Psychologen legen.
C'est le fameux dilemme de Copenhague. Alors, oui, M. Timmermans, demandons leur avis aux ONG et agissons! Agissez enfin! There are no effective tools for gradual sanctioning the breaches of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. Parliament has several times requested to change this situation, as in the Tavares report and the Ferrara report and on some other occasions as well, so it is clear that it is high time to create a new mechanism. But this is effective only if there is no room to apply them in a politically biased way.
This has actually already happened. The Commission has started a rule of law procedure against Poland but failed to do the same against the Hungarian Government, although its action is gradually damaging democracy and political freedoms. Apparently it seems that political affiliation matters.
Double standards clearly exist. This must be stopped. Any measures will make sense only if the political groups stop denying the obvious and stop protecting the unprotectable. Article 78 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU specifically provides that in the event an EU member state is confronted with a sudden inflow of political refugees, it may ask for assistance.
But, a decision influenced by German policy was taken in September that wrongly classified economic emigrants as political refugees, demanding that they be given this status under Article On this ground, these people were given different statuses. Yet, economic emigrants are covered by Article 79, which provides that it is up to member states to decide whether they want to admit such people and their admission is determined by the situation on the labour market. The overwhelming majority of refugees, like those in Germany, are not economic emigrants. No, the right definition is different.
They are refugees in the territory of Turkey which is classified as a safe country. Those people from Syria who fled to Turkey have the status of political refugees right there in Turkey.
Digitale Bibliothek der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: Gesamtverzeichnis Oktober 2004
But once they leave Turkey and go to an EU country, they lose their refugee status and become economic emigrants seeking better pay or social benefits. So Poland treats Syrians travelling through Turkey differently than it would treat a large group of refugees from Ukraine? We would request EU assistance only if we were not able to provide them with such assistance on our own. But we have already admitted around a million Ukrainians, who live and work legally or illegally in Poland, so the rest of Europe cannot accuse us of a lack of solidarity.
The ex-coordinator of Polish-German cooperation, Gesine Schwan, has recently said something to this effect. What is your opinion on the matter? I doubt that this opinion is commonly held. Schwan is not someone I would have referred to. She is an extreme left leaning Social-Democrat and does not understand our relations, history, or European policy.
It is not legally possible to take back EU subsidies, because they are concluded under international treaties. And even if Germany wanted to take back our subsidies, such move would backfire. Because for every euro that goes to Poland, eurocents return to the West. Also to Germany.
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Look, how is building motorways and other infrastructure in Poland? Parliament has several times requested to change this situation, as in the Tavares report and the Ferrara report and on some other occasions as well, so it is clear that it is high time to create a new mechanism. But this is effective only if there is no room to apply them in a politically biased way. This has actually already happened. The Commission has started a rule of law procedure against Poland but failed to do the same against the Hungarian Government, although its action is gradually damaging democracy and political freedoms.
Apparently it seems that political affiliation matters. Double standards clearly exist. This must be stopped. Any measures will make sense only if the political groups stop denying the obvious and stop protecting the unprotectable. It has no legislative effect; it is just hot air. It was pointless to write and equally pointless to debate. However, Britain needs no lessons in democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. Britain had a democracy founded on parliamentary government that evolved over years.
Our democracy was undermined by transferring supremacy of law-making from our parliament to the European Union. We had the rule of law — our law — which evolved over a thousand years. We had fundamental rights, established under such things as Magna Carta, the common law, habeas corpus and the Bill of Rights. Our rights and freedoms are being destroyed by such things as the European Arrest Warrant that allows British citizens to be arrested, extradited and imprisoned in corrupt foreign countries merely on the basis of vague accusations without any supporting evidence.
If the British people want their democracy, the rule of their law and their fundamental rights back, then we must leave the European Union as quickly as possible. Gerolf Annemans ENF. Terwijl de lidstaten elk van onderuit de bron van rechtsstatelijkheid en democratie zouden moeten zijn, worden ze nu onder de veredelde bureaucratische curatele van de Europese Unie geplaatst en worden de begrippen die de grondslag en rijkdom van de Europese samenwerking vormden, nu de gestandaardiseerde regels van Big Brother in de versie van de Europese Unie, een zogenaamd panel van deskundigen aan het hoofd van een EU-inquisitiesysteem.
De oorspronkelijke rijkdom van de mensenrechten en de democratie verwordt nu tot een wapen in uw EU-dictatuur. Daar kan ik onmogelijk aan meewerken. Pavel Svoboda PPE.
I agree with the First Vice-President that it is a very political process, and the rule of law is the key fundamental framework of our Union. If that fails, our democracy is seriously threatened. I very much agree with my colleagues that we need to kick off by finding institutional agreement on establishing a mechanism like this that is in fact a manifestation of our common European values. We have today an excellent chance to make it happen. In general, I do not support the idea of duplicating mechanisms with tools that already exist, but I do not feel that today we have such mechanisms that are effective.
Looking at the situation in Poland or Hungary, socialists and democrats have for a long time been pushing for the establishment of a democracy scoreboard. Today we ask the accession countries to meet the Copenhagen criteria, but the Member States can simply do whatever they want. So I very much support the idea of establishing such a mechanism on democracy that would stop various violations of the treaties, for example freedom of the media, which we heard mentioned several times.
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So this mechanism is really needed. Arne Gericke ECR. Klingt komisch, ist aber so. Ich stimme dagegen. Ich widerspreche der Kollegin, die vor mir gesprochen hat. Die ungarischen EVP-Kollegen wissen sicher, was ich meine. Ziel: Macht zementieren. Ihr Mechanismus gegen Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Grundrechte ist eine absolute Fehlkonstruktion.
Let us be absolutely clear about what we are talking about this morning. We are talking about a report that seeks to establish a group of so-called independent experts who will monitor Member States to ensure that they are upholding the values of EU Treaties. Seemingly there is nothing wrong with that, but in fact there is — and there is plenty. Let me go through what is wrong. There is absolutely no legal nor Treaty mandate to establish this mechanism. The EU has therefore absolutely no right even to propose it. Thirdly, there is nothing that can be cited to justify or validate such a mechanism, and the timing should make everybody suspicious.
Call me cynical, but might it just be a knee—jerk reaction to circumstances in Poland and Hungary — two Member States — probably two out of 28 that would like to do much the same — which are, quite rightly, exercising their sovereign right to curtail EU influence and control in the areas of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights?
That is what sovereign nationhood is all about. If the European Union really wishes to add more substance to accusations of covert federalism and emerging Big Brother statehood, then go ahead, but there is absolutely no way anybody who believes in democracy should support this. Nicolas Bay ENF. Aujourd'hui, le moment est venu pour les peuples d'Europe de l'Est et de l'Ouest de se soulever contre la tyrannie de Bruxelles.
Udo Voigt NI.
Es gibt es zwar mit den Kopenhagen-Kriterien einen sehr strengen Mechanismus, Mitglied der Union zu werden. Nie o kary tu chodzi, ale o mechanizm wczesnego ostrzegania i dialogu. Carlos Coelho PPE. Gut so. Ich will allerdings auch nicht verhehlen, dass der vorliegende Vorschlag weiterer Diskussionen bedarf. An der einen oder anderen Stelle sehe ich durchaus Verbesserungsbedarf. Dennoch, mit der Abstimmung zu dem Pakt wird das Parlament ein wichtiges Signal aussenden. Milan Zver PPE. In zgodbe je konec. V takih hudih zlorabah bi morala Unija takoj reagirati, pa ni, ker baje nima ustreznega mehanizma.
Il riconoscimento dei diritti fondamentali, al quale molte paesi guardano con estremo interesse, si basa su una condizione essenziale, il rispetto dello Stato di diritto. Guardo quindi con favore ad un meccanismo indipendente che, sempre nell'ambito dei trattati, possa monitorare la situazione della democrazia, dello Stato di diritto e dei diritti fondamentali. Alessandra Mussolini PPE. Tjeckien och Slovakien segregerar barn i skolorna.
Les valeurs et les droits fondamentaux ne peuvent faire l'objet d'aucun compromis. Jeroen Lenaers PPE. De brief besluit ermee dat de stemming vanmiddag in onze eigen lidstaten gepubliceerd zal worden. Dat zal ongetwijfeld als een soort dreigement bedoeld zijn, maar het is juist een mooi stukje transparantie waar de anonieme briefschrijver zelf een voorbeeld aan had kunnen nemen.
Ik ga met heel veel plezier in mijn eigen lidstaat uitleggen waarom het zo belangrijk is dat fundamentele rechten in de EU op een structurele, objectieve, constructieve en evenwichtige wijze bespreekbaar gemaakt worden en waarom ze uit het domein van de bangmakerij en de taboesfeer van deze schrijver gehaald moeten worden.
Laten we eerlijk zijn: als wij als Europese Unie — op het wereldtoneel en in onze directe omgeving — de rol van voorvechter van fundamentele vrijheden willen vervullen, dan moeten we allereerst onze eigen zaakjes op orde hebben. Marijana Petir PPE. Judicial independence is non—existent. In Spain, under Popular Party governments, newspapers have been closed and political parties have been banned.