Can the EU still impose the rule of law on member states?

Head Partner of our Brussels office, Nikos Korogiannakis, and Koralia Kontou, lawyer at our Brussels office, have recently published an article in the Cyprus Mail, on the issue of whether the EU can still impose the rule of law on member states.

In their article they refer to the basic values of the EU, such as freedom, democracy and equality, and the central and emblematic role that they have in the institutional functions of the Union. Then they proceed to present one of the main tools at the disposal of the Council of the European Union in cases where it is determined that there is a clear risk of serious breach by a member state of EU values.  The tool in question being that of Article 7 of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which may entail the imposition of sanctions.

The authors provide examples of when the relevant procedures were triggered, such as the one of Poland on issues of independence of the judiciary. The policies of the leadership of Hungary have also caused concerns to the EU institutions on issues including: the country’s functioning of the constitutional and electoral system, the independence of the judiciary, its refusal to conform with the EU legislation related to immigration, and, the possible infringement of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services.

The article reports that the particular application of Article 7(2) of the Treaty has been discussed intensively in the last few weeks in European capitals, in light of deviations of Member States such as Poland and Hungary from the “right path”. The authors acknowledge the extreme nature of these corrective measures and express the opinion that, if followed, they will transform the EU institutions from a traditional “soft law” mechanism to a machine with the right to interfere in issues considered to be in the very nucleus of the Member States.

In order to access the article, please follow this link (in English).

For more information please speak with Nikos Korogiannakis or your usual contact at Elias Neocleous & Co LLC.