Protecting Eu Values. A Juridical Look At Article 7 TEU

Author:Iuliana-Madalina Larion
Pages:160-176
SUMMARY

Every European state that wishes to become a member of the European Union (EU) must adhere to the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). After accession, it is assumed that all Member States are further bound by these same values, such as the rule of law. However, the successful enlargement of the EU, especially towards the new democracies of Eastern Europe, gave... (see full summary)

 
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LESIJ NO. XXV, VOL. 2/2018
PROTECTING EU VALUES. A JURIDICAL LOOK AT ARTICLE 7 TEU
Iuliana-Mădălina LARION
Abstract
Every European state that wishes to become a member of the European Union (EU) must adhere
to the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). After accession, it is
assumed that all Member States are further bound by these same values, such as the rule of law.
However, the successful enlargement of the EU, especially towards the new democracies of Eastern
Europe, gave rise to the need for a means to balance this somewhat utopian view of irreversible
common ground. Thus, in 1999, in preparation for the wave of accession of 2004, the Treaty of
Amsterdam introduced Article 7 in TEU as a means of protecting EU values in the Member States. The
study makes a juridical analysis of this text, focusing on its content, its possible legal effects, its pluses
and minuses in representing an efficient means of dissuasion in relation to the Member States that have
raised concerns of serious breaches of the rule of law in the last few years. The main goal is to identify
the vulnerabilities of this legal mechanism in order to find solutions for its improvement and to suggest
complementary measures which might aid obtaining positive results. The way this matter is addressed
shall shape the future of the EU.
Keywords: European Union; values; rule of law; illiberalism; Article 7 TEU.
1. EU values in peril
In the last few years the EU’s
institutions, especially the European
Commission and the European Parliament,
have shown an increasing focus on
protecting the values enumerated in Article
2 TEU
1
. These values are meant to represent
the very basis for the Member States’
agreement to work together within this
original integration organisation, since
Article 49 TEU states that respecting and
PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, “Nicolae Titulescu” University, Bucharest, Judge at the Bucharest County
Court (e-mail: madalinalarion@gmail.com).
1
Article 2 TEU reads: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy,
equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These
values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice,
solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.” The Treaty on European Union was signed at Maastricht
on 7 February 1992 and is in force since 1 November 1993. For the consolidated version of TEU see: http://eur-
lex.europa.eu/collection/eu-law/treaties/treaties-force.html, last accessed on 10 March 2018.
2
Article 49 TEU first thesis of the first paragraph: “Any European State which respects the values referred to in
Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union.”
promoting them is a condition for accession
to the EU
2
.
For the most part of the EU’s
existence, neit her the EU, nor the Mem ber
States, had an y cause for concern about the
solidity of this common ground. However, at
the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the
years 2000, the European Union’ s
institutions were preparing to implement the
expansion policy towards Eastern Euro pe
and were negotiating with 12 states aspiring
Iuliana-Mădălina LARION 161
LESIJ NO. XXV, VOL. 2/2018
to membership status
3
, some of them still
undergoing a co mplex reform pro cess to
consolidate their newly found democracy.
The number of Member States was expected
to gro w from 15 to 27. In this context, the
Treaty of Amsterdam
4
inserted a new text in
TEU, former Article F.1
5
, which was
supposed to act as a preventive measure by
empowering the EU to determine the
existence of a serious and persistent breach
by a Member State of EU values and,
eventually, to suspend certain of the rights
deriving from t he application of this Treaty
to the Member State in question, including
the voting rights of the representative of the
government of that Member State in the
Council.
6
The Treaty of Nice
7
amended this
Article, to allow a public warning that there
is a clear risk o f a serious breach of EU
values by a Member S tate, further
emphasizing that the objective is to have the
Member State reconsider its position, rather
than act when the damage is already done.
The study shall make a legal analysis
of Article 7 TEU, in correlation to Article 2
TEU, then it shall present the steps taken so
far by EU institutions in applying this text in
response to concerns about serious breaches
of the rule of law by some Member States,
especially in the last three years.
The matter is not only recent and in
development, as it is the first time Article 7
TEU might be applied, but it is also of the
utmost importance for the future of the EU,
giving rise to a fiery debate about the
efficiency of the means to protect EU values
at the disp osal of EU institutions and about
complementary solutions that might be
3
In 2004 the EU welcomed: Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland,
Slovakia, Slovenia and in 2007 Bulgaria and Romania.
4
Signed on 2 October 1997. It entered into force on 1 May 1999.
5
Currently Article 7 of the consolidated version of TEU.
6
Article 1 point 9 of t he Treaty of Amsterdam, available at: https://europa.eu/european-
union/sites/europaeu/files/docs/ body/treaty_of _amsterdam_en.pdf, last accessed on 10 March 2018.
7
Signed on 26 February 2001. It entered into force on 1 February 2003.
8
Hillion, “EU Enlargement”, 193.
adopted, such as infringement actions or the
multi-speed EU or the differential allocation
of funds.
The study aims to identify the
weaknesses of Article 7 TEU and give
suggestions on how it could be improved, to
present the actions taken so far by EU
institutions on its basis a nd to assess their
efficiency, in an effort to see the limits of the
current mechanisms and to find
complementary ones that would favor
constructive solutions.
Given the great interest the subject
matter stirs up in legal literature, there are
quite a few doctrinal works that have taken
up the topic. The study intends to offer a
more technical ap proach, focused on the
legal texts and on the juridical aspects of the
problems being debated.
2. The legal mechanism for
protecting EU values
2.1 The creation and development of
Article 7 TEU
The 1993 Copenhagen European
Council took the view that post-communist
central and eastern European countries had a
vocation to become members of the
Union
8
. One of the three criteria the
European Council set out for the candidate
country aspiring to mem bership was
achieving the stability of institutions
guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law,
human rights and respect for and protection

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