Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is known for being an outspoken champion of his nation’s sovereignty and has criticized efforts by European Union leaders to impose immigration quotas on member nations, has now gone to bat for another EU member upon whom the EU is attempting to exercise control. Orban said on July 22 that Budapest would defend Poland following the EU’s threats to impose sanctions over Warsaw’s plans to extend government control over its own courts.
Poland’s senate recently passed the Judiciary Reform bill, which, if approved by the president, will enable legislators to designate judges to the Supreme Court. However, the bill’s critics have called it a major blow to the constitution, and it has triggered massive protests across Poland.
Many Poles have urged President Andrzej Duda to reject the bill. Whether he does so or not, however, should rightfully be a decision made among Poles, since Poland is a sovereign nation.
However, the EU doesn’t quite see it that way. In a speech delivered at the EU in Brussels on July 19, the EU’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans stated: “The [European] Commission already concluded in our 2016 Recommendations that there is a systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland.”
Timmermans said, in part:
Recent measures taken by the Polish authorities in relation to the judicial system and the judges greatly amplify the threat to the Rule of Law. That is why we had a discussion today in College on how to respond to this….
Under its Rule of Law Framework, the Commission has issued an Opinion and two Recommendations in relation to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal — in essence on the fact that the Constitutional Tribunal is no longer composed in accordance with the Polish Constitution and publication of its judgments is taken out of its hands.
In his discussion of the various aspects of the Polish Senate’s passage of the Judiciary Reform bill, Timmermans made a statement that goes to the very heart of why the EU is a threat to the national sovereignty of every EU member:
This is no matter only for the Polish people. What is happening in Poland affects the Union as a whole. All of us, every single Member State, every citizen of the Union.
In outlining what actions the EU might take in response to Poland’s legislative actions, Timmermans said:
Finally, with regard to Article 7, the option of triggering Article 7 of the Treaty was part of the discussion and it should come as no surprise to anyone that, given the latest developments, we are coming very close to triggering Article 7.
An article in Infowars on July 21 explained exactly what Article 7 is:
Article 7, which has never been triggered before, is a two part procedure, often referred to as a “nuclear option,” designed to empower Brussels to severely punish member states for what it considers fundamental rights violations.
“Article 7.1 would allow the Council to give a formal warning to any country accused of violating fundamental rights,” explains Politico. “If that doesn’t have the desired effect, Article 7.2 would impose sanctions and suspend voting rights.”
“However, that provision has to be adopted unanimously, and Hungary — ruled by Warsaw’s ideological ally Victor Orban — has said it would veto such a step.”
“We stand by Poland, and we call on the European Commission not to overstep its authority,” said Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.
Orban clearly stated in a July 22 speech that was televised from Baile Tusnad, Romania, that Hungary would stand by Poland in its dispute with the EU. “The inquisition offensive against Poland can never succeed because Hungary will use all legal options in the European Union to show solidarity with the Poles,” Orban said.
Reuters reported that Orban called for “patriotic governance” against the EU, saying that Poland was a victim of harassment from Brussels, in the same way he said Hungary had been targeted by the EU since he took office in 2010. “When a political elite turns against its people it always needs an inquisitor, who steps up against those who speak up,” Orban said, branding Timmermans as the inquisitor.
Orban said Timmermans was involved in an “effort to weaken patriotic governments,” noting that Poland was now his target.