French MPs from the right-wing ‘Les Républicains’ party refused to take their seats during the adoption of a Parliament resolution on the respect of the rule of law in the EU, which notably targets Hungary. EURACTIV France reports.
Phillippe Gosselin, the vice president of the French Parliament’s legal affairs committee, spent just five minutes there on Wednesday (24 October) before leaving with his fellow LR party MPs.
The meeting was supposed to examine a proposal for a resolution about the respect of the rule of law in the European Union. The text implicitly criticised Poland, Hungary and Romania for their infringements of the rule of law and supported the efforts of Brussels to bring them into line, while underlining its limitations.
Concerns about the state of law
“I want to criticise the form. The matter has already been concluded, the Polish and Hungarian ambassadors are not mistaken and have refused to come and discuss this. We will not participate either,” argued Gosselin.
Brussels’ efforts to support the rule of law in Hungary have already been the subject of tensions within Les Républicains, which is a political partner of Viktor Orban at the European level. Indeed, Les Républicains belong to the EPP, the major European centre-right party, where Orban’s Fidesz party also sits.
During the European Parliament vote in September to trigger article 7, which aims to establish a “clear risk of a serious breach” of the rule of law, LR MEPs were divided on the matter.
On the one hand, there were those who refused to stigmatise their political ally and, on the other, those who considered that a line had been crossed regarding the rule of law in Hungary.
On 20 December 2017, article 7 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union was also triggered against Poland.
Romania has not been subjected to the same procedure but remains under close observation by the European Commission, under a process known as the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.
A gesture monitored by other countries
The resolution, which was adopted without LR MPs’ support, called for a European network of legal experts and non-governmental actors to be established in order to warn of any state abuses. It also encouraged the other national parliaments to address the problem. German and Portuguese MPs are already reviewing similar texts.
“Civil societies of these countries are looking for our support since they can no longer express themselves within their countries,” explained Coralie Dubost, an MP from the Hérault département and co-rapporteur of the text.
“This resolution has to send a message to all the national parliaments,” Dubost said. Without an appeal being made in the meantime, this resolution will become the French parliament’s official position in a fortnight, in a gesture that is primarily a political one.