European Commission registers initiative to invoke Article 7 against the Orbán government

On Monday, the European Commission registered what in the EU is called a European Citizens Initiative (ECI), which is calling for the Union to invoke the dreaded Article 7 against the Orbán government, in response to systemic rule of law violations, xenophobia and the disregard for the values of liberal parliamentary democracy. An ECI is actually a new mechanism in the EU and arises from the Lisbon Treaty, giving ordinary citizens and activists the ability to “invite” the EC to consider legislative action in areas of concern. Once an ECI is registered, the activists behind the initiative must collect no less than one million signatures from at least seven member states. These signatures have to be gathered within one year. If successful, the EC must consider and possibly recommend legislative action in the specific area of concern–in this case, whether Article 7 should be invoked against Hungary. (See the EC’s press release here.)

Article 7 allows for the EC (or one third of all member states) to suggest that a member state has breached key EU values. The breach is then determined by the European Council, with the consent of the European Parliament. The Council may then suspend some of the member state’s rights, including those tied to voting.

Below is the current ECI’s rationale for invoking Article 7 against Hungary’s Orbán government, entitled Wake up, Europe! It was submitted by Pierre Galand to the EC only in French, so HFP is providing the original text, as well as a translation below.



Depuis son arrivée au pouvoir en 2010, le gouvernement de Viktor Orban a multiplié les mesures antidémocratiques, xénophobes et contraires aux principes fondateurs de l’État de droit. Cette situation est de nature à saper le projet de l’UE tel que défini à l’article 2 du TUE. En outre, le traitement inacceptable des migrants par les autorités hongroises laisse craindre que des actions de ce type s’étendent à d’autres Etats membres dont la culture démocratique est récente et fragile.

HFP’s English translation:

Since coming to power in 2010, the government of Viktor Orbán has introduced multiple anti-democratic, xenophobic measures, which run contrary to the principle foundations of the rule of law. This situation is likely to undermine the European Union project, as defined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. The unacceptable treatment of migrants by Hungarian authorities leads us to fear that such actions may spread to other member states, whose democratic culture is recent and fragile. 

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