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Another political offensive is being prepared against Hungary

2018. 03. 28.

Press release by Andrea Bocskor

The draft text of the special report of the European Parliament analyzing the rule of law in Hungary, and the opinion annexed to the report, show that another political offensive is being prepared against Hungary with the support of the political opposition. This demonstrates a clear attempt to influence the outcome of the upcoming Hungarian elections.

The draft in preparation contains exaggerations and criticisms that exhibit troubling double standards and a less than benevolent attitude toward Hungary, as I said to the press following the meeting of the European Parliament (EP) Culture and Education Committee (CULT) last week in Brussels.

The text takes issue with the Act on Higher Education, the segregation of Roma children in education, and the situation of media freedom in Hungary. It is telling that the text still considers the main problems to be the closure of the daily newspaper Népszabadság and the fact that a Hungarian news outlet reportedly listed journalists associated with George Soros.

The draft report on the rule of law in Hungary, prepared by Dutch MEP and member of the European Green Party Judith Sargentini, and the draft opinion of the education committee, include a number of outdated and distorted details. Hungary expects the formation of an objective opinion that would refrain from these double standards and misinformation.

Hungarian MEPs will not table any amendments and will vote against the adoption of the report, with which we strongly disagree. Hungarian MEPs will also ask members of the EPP Group to press for a more balanced and objective opinion during the debates and, in the spirit of solidarity, to oppose the draft in the vote.

At the request of the EP plenary, members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) are examining whether there is a clear risk that Hungary violates core European values. If the answer is yes, then the EP may ask the Council of the European Union to take necessary steps. Citing Article 7 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, specifically referring to a “deterioration of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights,” MEPs instructed the LIBE Committee last May to prepare a special report on Hungary to be voted upon in plenary.

The text will be put to a vote in the LIBE Committee in June. Other committees of the EP (the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, the Culture and Education Committee, Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the Budgetary Control Committee) contribute opinions that will be included in the annex of the report. The draft will then be put to a vote in the plenary session in September. To be adopted, the proposal must have the support of more than two-thirds of votes cast and an absolute majority of all MEPs – that is, at least 376 votes. If passed, the matter then goes to the Council of Ministers, which would require a four-fifths majority to say that a Member State has violated the EU’s basic values.

Article 7 also allows a multi-stage procedure that, in the event of serious and systematic violation of the EU’s core values, may eventually lead to the suspension of voting rights of the country concerned; however, this requires the unanimous support of all other Member States.