27 July 2021
On 22 June the Council held hearings of Hungary and Poland as part of the Article 7 procedure concerning the risk of a breach of the EU's founding values. The Council's summary reports, published here, give an overview of what was discussed.
The European Commission's recent report on the rule of law in the EU highlighted the efforts of the Polish and Hungarian governments to undermine the independence of the judiciary, stymie transparency and crack down on independent civil society organisations, sparking outrage from the governments of those two countries.
That report is not formally part of the Article 7(1) procedures that was triggered by the European Parliament against Poland and Hungary in 2018, although it covers many of the same issues as the Council documents that are published here.
See: Rule of Law in Poland - Article 7(1) TEU Reasoned Proposal - Report on the hearing held by the Council on 22 June 2021 (Council doc. 10246/21, LIMITE, 9 July 2021, pdf):
"On 22 June 2021, the Council heard Poland in accordance with Article 7(1) TEU. The hearing was conducted during the meeting of the General Affairs Council and lasted approximately two hours.
The Commission was then given the floor so that it could update the Council on the issues covered by the hearing. The Commission focused on: the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal; the independence and activities of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court; the National Council for the Judiciary; the reform of the Supreme Court; the extraordinary appeal procedure; and the Law on the Judiciary of 20 December 2019, introducing new disciplinary offences for judges.
The Polish delegation was then given the floor so that it could present its initial views on the topics of the hearing and reply to the remarks made by the Commission.
Afterwards, 10 delegations intervened to put questions to Poland: AT, FI, ES, DK, DE (also speaking on behalf of FR), LU, NL, IE, EL and SE."
And: Values of the Union - Hungary - Article 7(1) TEU Reasoned Proposal - Report on the hearing held by the Council on 22 June 2021 (Council doc. 10247/21, LIMITE, 9 July 2021, pdf):
"On 22 June 2021, the Council heard Hungary in accordance with Article 7(1) TEU. The hearing was conducted during the meeting of the General Affairs Council and lasted approximately two hours.
The Hungarian delegation was then given the floor to make its introductory general comments. Subsequently, the delegation presented its initial remarks on the handling of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure itself as well as on certain topics of the reasoned proposal: the right to equal treatment, freedom of expression and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
The Commission was then given the floor and presented its remarks.
Afterwards, 12 delegations intervened to put questions to Hungary: AT, BE, DE, DK, EL, ES, FI, FR (also speaking on behalf of DE), IE, IT, NL and SE."
The Commission's rule of law report also contains individual chapters on each EU state, available here.
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