The European Commission has said that the rule of law in Hungary has deteriorated in recent years, especially with regard to gay rights and the situation of journalists subject to wiretapping, and the same goes for businessmen close to the Hungarian opposition.
Discusses the rule of law in Hungary
The European Council held a special session on Monday to discuss the state of the rule of law in Hungary. The European Union launched a procedure against Budapest four years ago under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, which deals with core values within the European Union. But this step is for the time being still without effect on the Hungarian government, which has not changed its views, which has been the subject of criticism from European bodies.
Accusations of undermining the rule of law regarding the independence of the judiciary
In July, the European Union published its annual report for 2021 on the overall state of the rule of law in the Union. Hungary and Poland have been accused of undermining the rule of law with regard to the independence of the judiciary, pluralism of the media and the fight against corruption. In a statement posted on the European Commission’s website, the aforementioned report was considered “a key tool for assessing the appropriate use of European funds”.
Hungarian Government’s response to Article 7 activation
In turn, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said: “The most important message is that the Hungarians had their say on April 3 and decided who they choose,” referring to the victory of Hungary’s ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the general elections, where it took place.The Hungarian Civil Union (Fidesz) party, affiliated with the Christian Democratic People’s Party, won 135 out of 199 seats, while the opposition “Unity for Hungary” alliance won 56 seats .
Judit Varga explained that “citizens are closely following European affairs and their response to the measures related to the activation of Article 7 is that they support the Hungarian Government’s policy on Europe and on all issues related to the rule of law. , “and emphasizes that” the mandate of more than three million voters gives the correct answers to everything. ” “As she said.
The Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands are most critical of Budapest on the issue of democracy, while Denmark particularly disapproves of the “political climate that precedes the legislative elections” in Hungary.
Activate mechanisms to punish Hungary
On the other hand, Daniel Hegedus, a Fellow of Central European Studies at the American think tank (the German Marshall Fund), explains that “for the past four years, the hearings on Hungary have yielded virtually nothing, and I can not say they is useless. ” The advantage is because it is always used as a tool or a way to put pressure on governments, “referring to the European Commission’s threat to activate mechanisms to sanction Hungary over the principles of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
European money cut off from Budapest
In April, the European Union launched measures against Hungary that have not yet been implemented, which could lead to European funds being cut off from Budapest because they “violated the norms of democracy”. Jonas Hahn, federal budget commissioner, has been given the green light to send a “written notice” to the Hungarian government, which implements the rule of law mechanism.
The mechanism is a procedure that has been in place since January 2021, but has not been used so far, which makes it possible to suspend the payment of European funds in the event of a breach of the principles of the rule of law.
Whatever the case, the European Commission is currently preparing for sanctions against Russia, and it needs the consensus of EU member states to implement the sanctions.
On May 4, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the Commission was proposing a “total ban on Russian oil imports” in the 27-nation European Union, as part of a sixth package of sanctions against Moscow for his invasion of Ukraine.
These are Hungary’s demands from the European Union to give up Russian oil
Hungary, however, is opposed to the measure. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced earlier this month that his country could not support the new EU sanctions package against Russia in its current form, stressing that “Hungary can also not support sanctions against Russian oil imports. do not prohibit. ”
The Hungarian government says it will need between 15 and 18 billion euros to get its economy ready to give up Russian oil under a proposed new EU sanctions package against Moscow.
Other EU countries have expressed growing frustration with Budapest, and some have also questioned EU rules requiring consensus on sanctions decisions.
The Hungarian government also considers the exception of two years offered to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic insufficient, and has requested at least four years and about 800 million euros in European funding to adapt its refineries and the capacity of the Adria pipeline coming from Croatia.