EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Suspension clause (Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union)

Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union allows for the possibility of suspending European Union (EU) membership rights (such as voting rights in the Council of the European Union) if a country seriously and persistently breaches the principles on which the EU is founded as defined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities). Nevertheless, that country’s membership obligations remain binding.

In accordance with Article 7, on the proposal of one third of EU Member States, or of the European Parliament or of the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members, having obtained the Parliament’s consent, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of these fundamental principles by a Member State, 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 EU institutions when a Member State faces the application of Article 7. The country in question does not take part in the vote. It is not included 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.