Enacting Article 7: Changing the Scope of European Union Politics
For the first time in European Parliamentary history, Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union was enacted against a member state–Hungary–for its systemic breaches of the EU’s founding values. Among those values were its failures to accept migrants seeking refuge in the European Union as they fled political upheaval in the Middle East. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán has repeatedly stated his displeasure with the European Parliament vote; he has gone as far as calling it blackmail. He perceives this as an attempt to leverage them into changing their anti-immigration stance especially with his view that the influx of Muslims for the Middle East would impede a Christian Europe.
The European Union maintains its’ commitments to protecting human rights and currently with the migration crisis of 2015 and 2016 has set its sights on making its best effort to relocate refugees to EU Member States so that not one country on its own would have deal with the influx of population. The European Commission in September 2015 decided to set up an Emergency Relocation Service that lessened the economic burden on Italy and Greece from the migrants settling there and dispersed them evenly throughout member states of the European Union. According to the EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016, the European Union has set up a legal way for refugees to enter Europe as Greece and Italy have taken on most of the influx of migrants at the beginning of the crisis. However, as open and willing as the European Union is to help those seeking political asylum, they are equally dedicated to the protection of their borders thus they have set up screening and registration processes for migrants and returning irregular migrants that have not followed the legal procedures.
Prime Minister Orbán has refused to follow European Union proceedings leading to the enactment of Article 7 against his country. It is notable that the EU Parliament is setting precedent for other EU Member States that hold anti-immigration stances–Poland and the Czech Republic–of the potential consequences their own nations face if they refuse to follow EU standards such as sanctions and eventual loss of voting rights. By losing its voting rights’ Hungary would be at the mercy of the other European Union member states as they would have to abide by any of the choices made. While it is still unknown if the European Union will indeed place sanctions against Hungary, sanctions would require the European Council to be unanimously in favor of the action.
As a response to the enactment of Article 7, Hungary has stated that they plan to appeal the European Parliament’s decision via legal measures. They hold that the vote would violate their sovereignty as a nation to make its own decisions concerning who to accept into their nation. This rising uncertainty in the European Union not only affects member states but all those seeking political asylum from unsettling conditions in their home states; this proceeding could help or hinder refugees’ chances at escaping hardship and making a new life in the European Union, but the outcome has not been set in stone yet. Since this issue pertains to human rights – a critical situation highlighted by the European Union – it is a likely course of action to try and help the migrants coming from the Middle East escape the violent environment that they are in. This conflicts with the policy that Viktor Orbán has tried to implement and will undoubtedly lead to greater issues between the larger institution of the European Union and Hungary but will help set a precedent for future battles between member states over disagreements in foreign policy and refugees looking for a new start.