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Suspension clause

Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union  allows for the possibility of suspending EU membership rights (such as voting rights in the Council) if a country seriously and persistently breaches the principles on which the EU is founded (liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law). Nevertheless, that country’s membership obligations remain binding.

According to Article  7, on the proposal of one third of EU countries, or of the Commission or of the European Parliament, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members, having obtained the European Parliament’s consent, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of these fundamental principles by an EU country, and address appropriate recommendations to it.

Article  354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union lays down the voting procedures to be used by the main European institutions when an EU country faces the application of Article  7. The country in question does not take part in the vote. It does not figure in the calculation of the one third of countries required for the proposal or the four fifths required for the majority. Parliament’s consent requires a two-thirds majority.