CoEU: Council of the European Union

Topic: Euroscepticism within Poland and Hungary

Euroscepticism is the internal opposition and criticism of the European Union (EU) and European integration. Eurosceptic states believe that the supranational power of the EU weakens the member states’ national governments and threatens their national sovereignty. Among the largest proponents of Euroscepticism are the populist governments of Poland and Hungary. Both of these states have clashed with the European Commission on migration and the rule of law. These states use public anti-immigrant sentiment to define their national identities in more exclusionary ethnic and religious terms. Viktor Orbán, Hungarian Prime Minister, has called for a “Christian culture” to be preserved and considers his rejection of refugees entering Hungary as a part of this effort. Both states have elicited censure for cracking down on independent institutions and splitting off from the fundamental democratic values of the EU. The Polish government took legal steps to alter how its democratic system worked to gain control of the judiciary system, and consequently, the European Commission triggered the Article 7 process for the first time. Article 7, a last resort mechanism in the EU to uphold the core values of democracy and rule of law, can result in the most serious democratic sanctions the EU can impose—disenfranchisement of the country in the EU. The EU is founded on the values of democracy, freedom, tolerance, equality, and the rule of law. Euroscepticism directly challenges the EU’s founding values and damages the legitimacy and effectiveness of the EU, so the Council must take swift action to address it.

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