Pick an article, any article: A? An? The? No, the article we were thinking of was: 7

The EU's Article 7, and the unpleasant reasoning behind it.


Article 7 of the EU is an infringement procedure in two parts. It’s designed to be used against member states that have violated fundamental rights. Fundamental rights, according to the EU, include:

human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

Article 7, a mechanism of the Lisbon Treaty, came into force in the 1999 Treaty of Amsterdam. 1999. That date is important.

The 5th enlargement of the EU occurred in 2004, and was the biggest to date, allowing the accession of ten countries. Previous enlargements have been of maximum three, and in 1981, Greece joined the club on its own.

Back to the ten that joined in 2004. What similarities can we detect? The ten were: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia. What’s the underlying connection? Well, that’s simple, isn’t it? Other than Cyprus, and Malta, what connects the other eight? Yes, they’re all post-communist states.

And before they joined, five years before they joined, the EU brought in a new rule. A rule which was intended for the new members.

Article 7 is intended to enforce sanctions. The rule that was brought in, intended for use against the new member states is a discriminatory amendment. That’s hardly the most promising of welcomes now, is it?

The EU, that bastion of being nice to people, that fortress of fairness, one year after opening negotiations with various post-communist countries regarding accession to the EU, felt it necessary to build in a safeguard to protect…themselves.

Everybody knew that accession to the EU came with strings attached, but was there really any need for this number of strings?

This safeguard is something that beggars belief. And, most importantly, this safeguard reveals that the Western world knew and understood nothing about the other half of the continent.
The sanctions, let’s face it, were not intended to be used against Cyprus or Malta. Article 7 was written into the EU’s treaties as a safeguard to stop the post-communist states from backsliding into the authoritarianism that they had just escaped.

From where I’m sitting, this is nothing short of mind-boggling. The EU cynically thought that there was actually a chance that countries which had just escaped from the brutal maw of the Soviet Union would, within a short time, engineer their return to those same, brutal jaws?

Yes. Unlikely as it seems, the EU thought that the member states might regress to dictatorship. A fact which gives the lie to the EU’s propaganda selling the idea that once someone joins the EU they can expect nothing less than bluebirds singing and continual sunshine.

The EU knew what their expansion was really about. It was all about gaining better access to markets. Access for well-developed, battle-hardened, capitalist-from-the-roots-up companies which had carved out success for themselves in the single market. Of course, the expansion would also benefit the new member states, but the EU knew that economically, this would be a massacre.

There was no way on Earth that companies which had stuttered and stumbled through the vagaries of the incredibly inefficient planned economies of the East could ever hope to hold their own. These were companies which had always been beholden to political, rather than purely economic considerations. These companies were banned from improving their efficiency as the state dictated that total employment outweighed economic logic.

So, the EU knew that a slaughter was on the cards. And so it came to be. The monies given by the EU weren’t given to the new member states so much as given to the established companies of the EU to set themselves up in the new member states. Indirect, rather than direct funding.

From the EU’s point of view, Article 7 wasn’t a bad idea: the EU knew exactly what devastation was coming. OK, so it was wrapped in optimism and tied with a bow of hope, but the EU knew what was about to be unleashed on the unprepared countries of the East. And, they could predict that there would be a reaction, a backlash to the sudden destruction of industry and jobs. The EU could see that this was a gamble. A gamble which could potentially damage the EU. So, Article 7 was created. A big stick to make sure that in the post-communist states, everyone did as they were told, no matter what the population might demand of their politicians.

To look back and consider what the EU truly thought about us prior to our joining the club is a very disappointing part of our progress in the world. Perhaps the only thing more disappointing in fact, is the attitude of the EU to Article 7.

In 2006 Hungary did indeed slide backwards towards authoritarianism. People were indiscriminately beaten by the police; people were deliberately targeted by police with rubber bullets and tear gas launchers; people suffered firearms injuries; people had their fingers broken, and in holding cells young women were humiliated: forced to strip naked and perform squats in front of police officers. If that wasn’t a slide into authoritarianism, then what was?

Surely that would have been justification for the start of an Article 7 procedure? No. That was when the country was controlled by a man the EU saw as one of their own, a thief who called himself a socialist, a common occurrence in the EU.

Nothing happened. But when a conservative Prime Minister refuses to roll over and play dead so that the EU can do what it wants with our country, then all Hell breaks loose.

This is the moment when the EU decide to twist the original goal of Article 7 and turn it against us without recourse to a legally comprehensible argument. Article 7 speaks of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Now, more than at any time in recent history, we have that. But the EU, stung by our refusal to follow their line, irritated by our refusal to accept what they see as the solution, attack us with accusations trumped up in collusion with Hungarian traitors who would willingly and gleefully do their own country and nation harm.

Article 7 is a foul, cynical piece of legislation which was never intended to be used as anything other than a tool to threaten. When its use could have been justified, in 2006, the EU chose to do nothing, for political reasons. Now that they have decided to invoke it against us, it is similarly for political reasons.

Don’t believe the lies they release about ‘rule of law’ and the like. This is political. It always was, and it always will be.