EU Parliament Votes for Sanctions vs Poland, Hungary as They Deal With 1.5 Million Refugees
The European Union has decided to impose economic sanctions on its two member states, Poland and Hungary, even as the two countries deal with the influx of over 1.5 Million Ukrainian refugees in the last 2 weeks. European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of these sanctions on Poland and Hungary in the middle of the unfolding humanitarian crisis.
In a press release, European Parliament stated that it was high time for the Commission to protect the EU budget from violations of rule of law. It also mentions that EU funds must be protected from countries that undermine the EU’s “liberal democratic values”. As per European Union laws introduced in January 2021, EU member countries that bend the rule of law are not eligible to receive funds from the EU.
478 MEP (Members of European Parliament) voted in favour of these sanctions, while 155 voted against.
“EU laws are above national laws, even above the constitution of respective member states”
In October 2021, Poland’s top court had rejected the supremacy of EU laws over some judicial matters. A constitutional tribunal in Poland had stated that some EU treaty articles were incompatible with Poland’s constitution.
The European Commission had taken major objection to the Poland top court’s ruling and had stated, “EU law has primacy over national law, including constitutional provisions. All rulings by the European Court of Justice are binding on all member states’ authorities, including national courts.”
As per European Union, Poland and Hungary are not respecting these common EU laws, and are accused of curbing the freedom of courts, media and academics. In addition, they are accused of depriving LGBTQ+ people and migrants of their rights. The two countries had appealed against these European laws in the European Court of Justice but their plea was dismissed in February earlier this year.
With Billions of Euros at stake, this decision is bad news for both Poland and Hungary, particularly for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban who faces an election next month.
While the timing of this decision is just a coincidence, since the process was in the works since last year, still the decision to rob these countries of funds in the middle of a refugee crisis has been met with widespread derision. During the ongoing war in Ukraine, Poland has taken close to 1.5 million refugees, while Hungary has received nearly a quarter of a million refugees.
The European Parliament has, by a large majority, adopted a resolution calling on the European Commission to begin action to withhold funds from member states that fail to respect the rule of law. The document names Hungary and Poland as particular violators.
The resolution was condemned by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which unsuccessfully proposed an amendment calling for the rule-of-law mechanism not to be applied due to the war in Ukraine and the pandemic. It also called on the EU to immediately release Covid recovery funds that have been blocked over rule-of-law concerns.
The parliament declared that it was now “high time” for the European Commission to “react to the ongoing violations of the rule of law in some EU member states, which pose a danger to the European Union’s financial interests”.