Judy Asks: Should the EU Sanction Its Members?
A selection of experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.
Nicolas Bouchet - Nonresident fellow in the Europe Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States
Yes, it should, but it is probably too late to develop a mechanism with teeth for doing so. When European leaders made norms of liberal democracy the fundamental grounds for EU membership, they showed a failure of political imagination by not conceiving of situations in which democratically elected governments could erode or ignore these norms not only in new democracies but also in older ones. Now, the situation is like needing to repair a plane in midair—and not all of the crew agrees there is a malfunction that needs fixing.
Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, which provides for the suspension of a member’s voting rights, has been of limited appeal or use. In theory, the EU could adopt graduated measures to react to the erosion of democracy in member states and—more difficult—a system to determine whether there is such erosion. But in practice, short of a more serious crisis than what has been seen in some countries so far, it is hard to see where the political will and unity can come from among members in today’s context. Too many will not want to give this kind of power over their politics to other members, the European Commission, or a new EU institution.
Photo credit: Marco Aprile / Shutterstock, Inc.