The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has come out in favour of taking legal action against the European Commission over what it says is a failure to enforce rule of law violations in EU states.
On Thursday, 13 members of the committee voted in favour of filing a lawsuit with the European Court of Justice (ECJ); three were against and six abstained, dpa learned from sources in the parliament.
"While the commission is squabbling, parliament is forging ahead," German lawmaker Sergey Lagodinsky, the committee rapporteur responsible, told dpa.
"The restriction of fundamental rights and independence of the judiciary by governments in Hungary or Poland are a serious threat to the citizens of these countries, but also to the oversight of EU funds given to these governments," he said.
This is exactly what the rule of law mechanism was created for, he said.
The ball is now in the court of European Parliament President David Sassoli. He is the official who would have to file the complaint with the highest EU court. The full parliament may also vote on the move.
The parliament has until November 2 to file the complaint against the commission.
Specifically, the dispute is about the EU rule of law mechanism, which has been in force since the beginning of the year. It provides that EU countries can have funds from the common budget cut if there is a risk of misuse of the money due to violations of the rule of law.
The governments in Hungary and Poland fear that the new procedure will be used primarily against them and have filed a lawsuit against the regulation with the ECJ - the proceedings are still ongoing.