The EU’s highest court has dismissed an attempt by the Hungarian government to annul a resolution passed by the European Parliament in 2018.
The resolution called on EU leaders to determine, under article 7(1) of the Treaty of the European Union, the existence of “a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the union is founded”.
The EU has launched procedures against Hungary and Poland under article 7, which provides for sanctions against them, but the process has become bogged down as a unanimous vote from all other countries is required before the measures can be imposed on one country.
EU bodies have expressed particular concern about laws seen as affecting the independence of the judiciary in Poland and Hungary.
EU rules required a two-thirds majority of MEPs to pass the 2018 resolution against Hungary, but its government argued that the parliament should have taken abstentions into account when calculating the outcome.
Definition of 'vote cast'
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), however, found that MEPs’ abstentions did not have to be counted in order to determine whether the necessary two-thirds majority had been reached.
It said that the concept of ‘votes cast’ was not defined under EU treaties, and must be interpreted "in accordance with its usual meaning in everyday language”. Abstention, it argued, could not be treated as a ‘vote cast’, as it meant a refusal to adopt a position.