PES GAC: EU must not hesitate to use Article 7 to hold Member States accountable

PES GAC: EU must not hesitate to use Article 7 to hold Member States accountable

The PES General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting saw ministers gather in Luxembourg ahead of an EU Council meeting later today to discuss the Rule of Law, the Western Balkans, and EU coordination on COVID-19.

PES GAC Chair and German Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth, said:

“When Member States violate our Union’s values, we must not hesitate to put maximum pressure on them.

“Progressives cannot be the only ones noticing the constant attacks on European values and the Rule of Law, emanating most clearly from Hungary and Poland, but from elsewhere too.

“The assault on women’s rights, the constant campaigns against the LGBTIQ+ community, the attempts to corrupt judicial independence and media freedom. These are not trivialities. They are attacks on the rights and freedoms of European citizens.

“Article 7 hearings have taken place before and must continue, until the serious and persistent breaches to fundamental EU values stop. Socialist and social democrats are very clear on that point.

“We will also not accept that the European budget and recovery plan could finance governments that routinely violate European values. The European Commission must ensure this does not happen.”

The meeting condemned attempts to undermine EU values and principles and urged all Member States to respect the recommendations and decisions issued by EU institutions.  The meeting strongly criticised the Hungarian government for banning educational material and information opportunities on homosexuality and gender change. The PES stands proudly with the LGBTI+ community in opposition to these attacks from conservatives. We believe in equal and inclusive societies.

Ministers also exchanged on European coordination on COVID-19, welcoming progress on the EU Digital COVID Certificate and the valuable role the EU has played in promoting worldwide vaccination through its contributions to COVAX.

Ministers discussed the Western Balkans and expressed hopes that the blockade on negotiations with North Macedonia could be overcome. They urged Bulgaria to work with the EU to find a route through the impasse, warning that continued deadlock risks destroying the goodwill towards the EU that has been cultivated in the region.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Germany
  • Tytti Tuppurainen, Minister for European Affairs and Ownership steering, Finland
  • Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds, Malta
  • Juan Gonzalez – Barba, Secretary of State for the European Union, Spain
  • Hans Dahlgren, Minister for European Affairs, Sweden