MEPs worried about Hungary credibly fulfilling its role as Presidency of the Council in 2024

MEPs worried about Hungary credibly fulfilling its role as Presidency of the Council in 2024

Press conference — Breaches of the Rule of Law and fundamental rights in Hungary and frozen EU funds

In its latest resolution, Parliament raises serious concerns over developments in Hungary, in light of the upcoming Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Following a plenary debate on Wednesday on the situation of rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary and frozen EU funds, the text was adopted on Thursday (442 for, 144 against, 33 abstentions).

Further backsliding for EU values

MEPs have repeatedly expressed concerns over the state of EU values in Hungary, which have further deteriorated due to the “deliberate and systematic efforts of the government” and despite Parliament’s activation of the Article 7 mechanism. Their latest concerns relate to laws being adopted without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny and public consultation, as well as the abusive invocation of the ‘state of danger’, the misuse of whistleblower protection to undermine LGBTIQ+ rights and freedom of expression, and the infringement of teachers’ social and labour rights.

The resolution condemns the Hungarian government’s anti-EU campaigns, which aim to divert attention away from a lack of compliance with European values and systemic corruption. MEPs urge the government to bring elections in line with international standards, especially in light of the upcoming European elections in 2024. They also sound the alarm on reports of intimidation, such as visits by the secret police to some companies’ offices, of “strategic” parts of industry, with the aim of bringing them under the control of the Prime Minister’s close circle. The 2022 annual budget was modified 95 times by government decree, they stress, which precluded proper scrutiny and points to lack of sound financial management.

Parliament also raises an array of concerns in relation to the “frozen” recovery funds and corresponding reforms.

Concerns about the rotating Presidency of the EU

Parliament underlines the important role the Presidency of the Council has in driving forward legislation, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda and representing the Council in relations with the other institutions. It questions how Hungary will be able to fulfil this task credibly in 2024, given its lack of compliance with EU law and values, and the principle of sincere cooperation. Therefore, it asks the Council to find a proper solution and recalls that Parliament could take appropriate measures if such a solution is not found.

In adopting this resolution, Parliament is responding to citizens’ expectations to systematically uphold the rule of law across all EU countries, especially by protecting European values and the EU budget, as set out in Proposals 25(1), 25(4), 16(6), and 38(1) of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Parliament’s standing rapporteur for Hungary Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield (Greens/EFA, FR), commented: “Once again, the European Parliament is united in expressing its deep concern over the deterioration of the rule of law situation in Hungary. Unlocking the frozen funds at this stage would give Fidesz a carte blanche to continue their attacks on fundamental rights. It is time for the Council to question whether a member state under Article 7 procedure can credibly hold the Presidency of the EU.”

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