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EU Parliament Debates ‘Undemocratic’ Reforms in Poland and Hungary

The European Union (EU) parliament has debated the new reforms by both the Hungarian and Polish governments which the EU claims are dismantling democracy in the two nations.

The conflicts between the EU in Brussels and the central European states continue to grow as the EU parliament debated democratic reform in Hungary and Poland. The political bloc fears that the new law in Hungary regarding migrants and reform of the Polish Constitutional Court could be ‘anti-democratic’, reports Donau Kurier.

The EU Committee on Civil Liberties has drawn up a new plan to create a watchdog to monitor rule of law and fundamental rights across the member states. On Tuesday, MEPs voted in favour of the idea which will create a binding mechanism across the political bloc and stated “this mechanism should include objective benchmarks and lay down a gradual approach to remedying breaches” to fundamental rights and rule of law.

Known now as the “Pact for Democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights”, this watchdog will likely single out countries like Hungary who have so far refused to accept the redistribution of migrants from other member states. The Hungarian government’s choice to do so was backed up by the recent referendum which saw 95 per cent of those voting agreeing with the government’s stance.

The new mechanism will function to submit annual reports on what the EU calls democracy, rule of law, and fundamental rights (DRF). These reports will be scrutinised according to existing EU legislation and treaties to determine whether or not member states are acting in a manner approved by Brussels.

The DRF reports will then be used as a basis for possible punishment of member states who do not meet the criteria. This could include invoking EU Treaty Article 7(1)  as a warning to the country’s government that it is not “respect[ing] the common values of the EU”, all the way to suspending certain rights including voting rights of the country in the EU council under Article 7(2).

Poland has caused controversy over their conservative democratic reforms; though some see them as a move to end the legacy of corruption left by Poland’s Communist past.

Leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jarosław Kaczyński, has gone a step further saying: “Either we reform the EU or it collapses.” Mr. Kaczyński said that EU policy on migration and the economy has led to the rise of populist – and often anti-EU – parties across the continent that threaten the existence of the political bloc.

The Polish government has been working with fellow Visegrád 4 country Hungary to introduce measures to strengthen nation states within the union by recommending changes to EU treaties.

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