We have fought for the rule of law!

2020. 08. 04.

Speech by József Szájer in the European Parliament – 22/07/2020

There is a lot of talk in this House about the rule of law, even from those who have no idea what it means. For us, the rule of law means freedom, national independence and democracy. The rule of law means the rule of law, rather than the rule of people. For thirty years, my generation has fought for this to not only be an inherited privilege for those living in the western part of Europe. We have fought for this!

But I will also tell you that the rule of law is not what many people here want to use it for. It does not mean accountability for unrecorded, unwritten rules. It does not mean double standards, when someone is punished for the same thing for which someone else is praised. It does not mean sanctioning or silencing political ideologies that some do not like.

Yet here, some use the concept of the rule of law for this, by emptying it and subordinating it to a party’s political goals.

Anyone who speaks about the rule of law should not waive the voting rules just to get a result that is favorable to him, as was done recently in the vote on the Sargentini report. Anyone who is a believer in the rule of law should not be afraid of dissenting opinions and should give the floor to the accused to defend himself. In the recent debate on Hungary, you refused to allow the Hungarian Minister to share his position.

One of the oldest principles of the rule of law derives from Roman law: nullum crimen sine lege. There is no crime without law. In this House, however, solutions are being envisaged in which the rule of law is determined on the basis of non-normative, non-legal criteria; even in the event of suspicion, severe financial sanctions would be imposed and equal treatment would not be guaranteed.

This is the communist model. This is the Orwellian model of thought, policing that already wants to punish intent. This is the Soviet method, the squeezing of the law in order to educate and blackmail countries that have different political thinking. We have seen this before. We have already been victims of similar endeavors; we have defeated them and we will not allow them to return through the back door.

Europe deserves a better, yes, better rule of law.

And Madame President, if you allow me one last word. In this House, some members like to lecture certain countries, certain politicians about observing rules in the name of rule of law; however, this parliament is in breach of its own rules of procedure at this very moment: Our rules clearly say that voting can start only after the debate on the floor has finished. We are still debating, but the voting has already started. This is a violation of our own rules.

So, let us first clean up our own house before we condemn others.