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According to Deutsche Welle the European Parliament backed the EU Commission in triggering article 7 against Poland:

The European Parliament has backed a resolution supporting a recommendation from the European Commission to invoke Article 7 against Poland. The lawmakers voted in favor of taking action against Poland for undermining the EU rule of law with reforms to the Polish judiciary.

This is a step towards the theoretical end of Poland's losing of voting rights. However, this seems very unlikely due to Hungary's opposition:

Taking away Poland's EU voting rights would still be unlikely as it would require agreement from all the member states. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he would block any such action against his Polish ally.

(by all member states I understand all member states except the one targeted for losing voting rights).

Assuming that Hungary somehow faces the same issue (article 7 triggering) I am wondering if their voting rights can be lost at the same time (using the trick described in the following question).

Question: Can the EU Commission obtain an agreement of all member states by having voting rights discussed for two countries at once?

NOTE: My question should be treated as a general one (any two countries facing voting rights suspension). I have chosen Poland and Hungary only because Poland has just made another step towards losing the voting rights and Hungary supports Poland

  • Law is a nice construct, but in addition to the written words of the law, you need to consider this: Who is the judge and the jury? – Peter - Unban Robert Harvey Mar 2 '18 at 22:37
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    I think that legally it would be problematic. Article 7 and the therein referenced 354 only speak of a single member state in question. So I guess Hungary could vote about Poland and vice versa. Article 7 is probably thought as an extreme measure against a single, isolated outlier, not a standard tool. However, already starting that process through 7.1 and 7.2 will surely have repercussions. Even only being accused by one third of the member states of breaching the values of Article 2 is probably something a member would want to avoid. – Trilarion Mar 5 '18 at 17:14
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Like all things 'legal' in the realm of politics, the only real answer is maybe.

The process of article 7 from what I can discern is that either Article 7.1 or Article 7.2 (the wording sounds like 7.2 might also be an escalation of 7.1) are triggered by entities within the EU determining that a member state is violating "EU Values". If the country doesn't make enough effort to resolve whatever the issue is, the European council can make a unanimous vote that the breach is still occurring, and invoke 7.3.

The problem for the EU, is that Hungary is very much aligned with Poland, and the council is made up of heads of state from the EU's member states. It isn't actually clear to me, from looking at the article, that Poland shouldn't be able to take part in the vote as well. Logically they would not, but nothing in it talks about temporarily revoking their status on the council.

As far as being able to put multiple countries on 'trial' at a time, nothing in article 7 provides for that. Even if they could perform some mental gymnastics that allowed them to put both countries on trial, it presents a very dangerous precedent. If two, why not any number greater than 1/3, the minimum of countries needed to initiate the process to begin with?

Back to my first sentence though, the reality is that the EU can attempt to get away with whatever they decide to try and get away with. Counting on pieces of paper to determine what a country (or collection of countries) doesn't always work well in geopolitics.

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While I generally agree with Jack's answer I think that he could have included one key regulation, mentioned by Trilarion:

Article 354 (ex Article 309 TEC)

For the purposes of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union on the suspension of certain rights resulting from Union membership, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the Member State in question shall not take part in the vote and the Member State in question shall not be counted in the calculation of the one third or four fifths of Member States referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of that Article. Abstentions by members present in person or represented shall not prevent the adoption of decisions referred to in paragraph 2 of that Article.

For the adoption of the decisions referred to in paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, a qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of this Treaty.

Where, following a decision to suspend voting rights adopted pursuant to paragraph 3 of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, the Council acts by a qualified majority on the basis of a provision of the Treaties, that qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of this Treaty, or, where the Council acts on a proposal from the Commission or from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in accordance with Article 238(3)(a).

For the purposes of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, the European Parliament shall act by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, representing the majority of its component Members.

The issue is that there is no "trick" (or implicit norm) in art. 7, concerning not counting the accused country vote. It is clearly stated in art. 354, when exactly it should be omitted. Thus it is not implicit norm, subject to some wide interpretation, but a quite clear exclusion.

It's a political (not judicial) decision on interpreting vague EU values, thus requiring such total support is not a clear error, but actually makes some sense - is to prevent such regulations being abused in petty political struggles, unless the violation is outrageous enough for other countries to make their decision uniform.

There would be also one more problem - is it really good idea to bend (break?) EU treaty in order to discipline a country accused of failing to maintain rule of law? One may see some hypocrisy here.

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