The European Parliament on March 1 called on EU governments to swiftly determine whether Poland is at risk of a serious breach of EU values and if so, to propose solutions.

A majority of MEPs (422 to 147 and 48 abstentions) backed the EU Commission’s proposal to activate Article 7 of the EU Treaty (clear risk of a serious breach of EU values), and to ask Poland to address the risk.

MEPs called on the EU Council of Ministers “to undertake swift action in accordance with the provisions set out” in Article 7 and ask that the European Parliament be fully informed of progress made and action taken at every step of the procedure.

Article 7 of the EU Treaty, which has so far never been used, provides a mechanism for preventing breaches of EU values and deciding sanctions against the member state concerned, should they occur.

In November 2017, the European Parliament had warned the situation in Poland represents a “clear risk of a serious breach” of EU values, including the rule of law.

In response to European Parliament’s resolution, ALDE MEPs called on the Council to act swiftly and for the Bulgarian presidency to put the matter on the agenda.

“Through the adoption of this resolution, we strongly support the activation of Article 7 by the European Commission in December 2017,” said Nathalie Griesbeck, ALDE’s Coordinator for the Civil Liberties Committee. “Our assembly must fight – and will continue to fight – to demand full respect for the rule of law. Now it is up to the Member States to act in the Council.”

In turn, Sophie in ‘t Veld, First Vice-President of ALDE, said all eyes are on Europe now. “Will the EU rise in defence of its values? And questions go further: We need to get a clear answer on what the consequences are for police and justice cooperation, if the Polish judiciary cannot be considered to be independent? Member states’ authorities must work together on the basis of the presumption of compliance, not the pretence of compliance. It’s time to finally know where we are standing with Poland.”