EU lawmakers seek action over rights, rule of law in Hungary

The European Parliament [official website] passed a resolution [text, PDF] Wednesday accusing Hungary of engaging in actions which have resulted in the "serious deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights".

Hungary must "reach an agreement with the United States authorities, making it possible for Central European University to remain in Budapest as a free institution", according to the resolution, which was passed by 393 votes to 221, with 64 abstentions, on 17 May.

The Hungarian Government is asked to repeal laws tightening rules against asylum-seekers and non-governmental organisations, and to reach an agreement with the U.S. authorities, making it possible for Central European University to remain in Budapest as a free institution. "How far will you go?" asked Belgian euro-parliamentarian Guy Verhofstadt, the president of the European Alliance of Democrats and Liberals (ADLE).

EURACTIV exclusively reported last month that EPP was maturing to the idea of using Article 7 in the case of Hungary. The move could see Hungary's voting rights in the Council of Europe suspended.

Frank Engel, a member of the EPP from Luxembourg, said: "The Parliament can't act as if nothing happened".

"Recent developments in Hungary have led to a serious deterioration in the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights which is testing the EU's ability to defend its founding values", the parliament said in a statement.

Wrapping up a previous plenary debate, MEPs say that Hungary's current fundamental rights situation justifies launching the formal procedure to determine whether there is a "clear risk of a serious breach" of European Union values by a Member State. The right-wing government in Poland, which is now under the EU's rule of law monitoring procedure over its own actions, would be expected to veto any action against Hungary.

Hungary's ruling party Fidesz reacted to Wednesday's vote by saying it was "a shame that Hungarian leftist MPs also voted for the resolution" under alleged orders from USA billionaire George Soros. They are also requesting that any EU funds to Hungary be monitored by the European Commission. Our correspondent Sandor Zsiros reported from the European Parliament in Strasbourg: "Prime Minister Viktor Orban has had a lot of political battles with EU institutions".

That dispute is part of a wider government campaign against the billionaire philanthropist. Orban claims Soros is undermining Hungarian interests because of his support for migrants.

  • Leroy Wright