Bulgaria Stands Behind Hungary and Against Brussels
At a working meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, convened at the request of Deputy Prime Ministers Krasimir Karakachanov and Valeriy Simeonov and the Environment Minister Neno Dimov, the Bulgarian Government has decided to draft a position in defense of Hungary and against the proposal to initiate a criminal proceedings against it under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. The decision was taken unanimously by the members of the Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister Karakachanov announced after a briefing, in which Simeonov and Neno Dimov participated.
There is no formal announcement of this decision by the Council of Ministers, as the explanation is that it was not taken at a regular but at an operational meeting, and at the moment represents a unanimous opinion of the cabinet members to work towards the preparation of a position. Still, there is no draft of such a position to be shaped as a decision, MS said. In essence today's decision is that the Council of Ministers will start a procedure for drawing up a position of Bulgaria for the relevant formats of the Council of the European Union, where it will reflect that Bulgaria does not support the proposal of a criminal procedure against Hungary under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. This criminal procedure begins when it is established that there is a real risk in a Member State of a serious breach of the underlying principles on which the EU is built.
Instead of information from the Council of Ministers, a message from VMRO came to the media, to which Karakachanov's report was attached to the Council of Ministers, on the basis of which the decision was made. The report contains little more than a page and a half of the reasons that it is in Bulgaria's interest to support Hungary by declaring itself against the procedure under Art. 7 of the TEU because we will "protect our traditional friends and partners from the political attacks of ideological opponents and defend the rights of Bulgarians in Hungary who, as Hungarian citizens, may be subject to sanctions against Hungary."
The motives of Karakachanov
According to Karakachanov, the report on the situation in Hungary, drafted by the Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini, "contains a number of political qualifications and unprovable allegations", but at the same time did not take sufficient account of the fact that Hungary has already taken steps to remove some of the findings (apparently those that are not unpredictable) nor the declared willingness of the Hungarian government to cooperate. That is why Karakachanov suggests that "the aim of the decision against Hungary is to derive political dividends before the elections to the European Parliament in 2019".
Secondly, problems of national law are concerned, and "the adoption of such a decision by the Council can create a precedent for blurring the border between the European legal framework and the spheres of state sovereignty and interference in the internal affairs of a Member State."
Next, according to Karakachanov, Bulgaria maintains very good relations with Hungary, both sides have common positions on a number of topics of mutual interest. "Bulgaria and Hungary even adopted an official day of friendship between the two nations (October 19th), and a significant Bulgarian national minority lives in Hungary, enjoying full respect and support from the Hungarian state, including representation in the Hungarian National Assembly" , says Karakachanov's report, without explaining the relevance of these facts to the question whether the EU's concerns about a serious violation of the values on which the EU is based are justified. Nowhere in Karakachanov's report are the specific problems with democracy in Hungary discussed in their different manifestations.
MEPs from GERB and VMRO support Orban and vote against sanctions for Hungary
On September 12, European deputies voted by a large majority to trigger the criminal proceedings under Art. 7 of the EU Treaty (TEU) against Hungary - by 448 votes in favor, 197 against and 48 abstentions. MEPs of GERB refused to support the decision, and Angel Djambazki of VMRO and Socialist Momchil Nekov voted against it. In fact, only the former Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev (BSP), former Regional Minister Iskra Mihaylova, Filiz Husmenova and Ilhan Kyuchuk (all three of the MRF), as well as Svetoslav Malinov (DSB), the only Bulgarian MEP from the Group of the European People's Party , who is not from GERB, voted for the decision, wrote Capital. Some Bulgarian MPs simply did not go to the ballot to vote. Meanwhile, observers pointed to the parallel between the situation in Hungary and Bulgaria, as well as between the methods of Victor Orban and Boyko Borisov.
The decision was made on the basis of the Judith Sargentini report, which defines the attacks by Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban on the judiciary, the media, academics and migrants as absolutely incompatible with the EU's basic principles. Thus, Hungary became the second country after Poland in the history of the EU where the question of triggering such a procedure has been raised. The discussion of the measures against Poland was in December.
The procedure under Art. 7 TEU
Article 7 of the EU Treaty states that, on a reasoned proposal (either one-third of the Member States, the European Parliament or the European Commission), the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members, may, after approval by the European Parliament, the existence of an obvious risk of a serious breach by a Member State of EU values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. It was precisely this approval of the European Parliament that was voted on 12 September, but that is just the beginning of the procedure. A vote in the Council is forthcoming, and before making any finding of obvious risk, the Council must hear the State and make recommendations to it.
As a result of this procedure, when the European Council establishes such a serious and persistent breach of the values referred to in Article 2, which must be unanimous, it is only then that the EU Council "may, by a qualified majority, decide to suspend certain rights resulting from the application of the Treaties to the Member State concerned, including the right to vote of the representative of the Government of that Member State in the Council ". The Council of the EU and the European Council are different bodies, the Council is made up of the ministers of the different countries in the policy, and the European Council is composed of the Heads of State or Government of the EU, the President of the European Commission, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, security policy. The chance for the European Council to decide on Hungary is unanimous, with almost unanimous vote, which means that it is also possible to trigger the procedure against it.
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