European Parliament Urges Action on Hungary’s Democratic Erosion
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 18 January 2024 to express its concern about the further erosion of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary.
In particular, the recently adopted “national sovereignty protection” package, which has been compared with Russia’s infamous “foreign agents law”, was highlighted and the Parliament calls on the European Council to determine whether Hungary has committed “serious and persistent breaches of EU values” under the procedure of Article 7(2) TEU.
In its resolutions, Parliament also condemns the actions of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who blocked the revision of the EU’s long-term budget in December 2023, including the Ukraine aid package of €50 billion. This has further triggered debates about Treaty reform and the need to overcome unanimity on occasions.
Furthermore, Parliament regrets the European Commission’s decision to release up to €10.2 billion of previously frozen funds, despite Hungary not fulfilling the demanded reforms for judicial independence as put in motion by the application of the rule of law conditionality mechanism. The resolution recognizes the systemic discriminatory practices by the Hungarian government against civil society, academia, journalists and political parties when allocating funds. Parliament considers it unlawful to partially unfreeze funds and will look into whether legal action should be pursued to overturn the decision. Commissioners Hahn, Reynders and Schmit will be quizzed on 24 January about the partial release of previously frozen funds to Hungary.
In light of these concerns, Parliament questions if the Hungarian Government will be able to fulfil its duties while holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2024. Therefore, MEPs ask the Council to find proper solutions to mitigate these risks, and call for reforms to the Council’s decision-making process, to end the abuse of the right of veto and blackmail.