Leo Hotham and Lucas Nacif
According to Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the European Union (EU) is founded on the common values of its Member States: ‘respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, and the rule of law’. The Article in itself is non-obligational, and lacks a substantive dimension, and as such appears to be aspirational. It is, however, protected against serious breach by the procedures contained in Article 7 TEU.
This Article was introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam, to advance the European constitutional project by creating a form of ‘constitutional troubleshooting’, placing the individual at its centre and providing protection from ‘state arbitrariness’. The provision entrusts the Council with an arsenal of political measures aimed at rectifying a breach of Article 2. Firstly, Article 7(1) TEU enables the Council, acting by four-fifths majority, to take pre-emptive action, after a proposal by the Commission, Parliament or one-third of the Member States, to declare ‘a clear risk of serious breach’ of Article 2 TEU. The Council, acting by unanimity, may furthermore declare ‘the existence of a serious and persistent breach’, at which point the Council has at its disposal a sanctioning mechanism, able to strip Member States in breach of rights derived from the Treaties. In this post, we will argue that, despite the gravity of the Commission’s recent recommendation, it will unlikely have a lasting impact, due to the current political climate alongside the onerous procedural requirements of Article 7 TEU.
Continue reading “Article 7 TEU and the Polish case – a recast”