The Hungarian authorities must remedy any breaches of key EU values swiftly. If they fail to do so, Parliament's leaders should consider asking the Council of the EU to determine, under EU Treaty Article 7.1, whether there is a clear risk of a serious breach. That is according to a press release by the European Parliament, following MEPs accepting a report ny Rui Tavares on the breaches of democratic and EU values in Hungary.
In the non-legislative resolution, adopted by 370 votes to 249, with 82 abstentions, the European Parliament stresses that the EU is founded on key values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, as enshrined in Article 2 of the EU Treaty.
"Constitutional changes in Hungary have been systemic and they have a general trend that moves away from EU values enshrined in EU Treaty Article 2," said rapporteur Rui Tavares in the debate on Tuesday. "Democracy is about the rule of the majority, but not about majoritarianism," he added.
Parliament regrets that the process of drafting and adopting Hungary's constitution "lacked the transparency, openness, inclusiveness and, ultimately, the consensual basis that could be expected in a modern democratic constituent process” and deplores the fact that the institutional changes “resulted in a clear weakening of the system of checks and balances”.
Recommendations to the Hungarian authorities
Parliament urges the Hungarian authorities to remove from the constitution those provisions already declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, to reduce the recurrent use of cardinal laws, to apply the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, to ensure the widest possible participation of all parties in the constitutional process and to fully guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
On media laws, Parliament asks Hungary to set up objective, legally binding procedures for the appointment of heads of public media and regulatory bodies. MEPs also call on the Hungarian authorities to “finally assume their responsibilities towards the homeless”, adopt a broader definition of “family” and do more to integrate Roma communities.
To prevent breaches of EU values in the future, MEPs call for a ‘Copenhagen mechanism’ to be set up to ensure compliance with EU common values and continuity of pre-accession criteria. This mechanism, which could take the form of a "Copenhagen Commission" or high-level group, would be independent from political influence and avoid any risks of double standards, the communiqué says.
Hungarian government reply
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán commented on the EP resolution that “the Tavares report seriously infringes on and limits the independence of Hungary. The Prime Minister participated at the EP session discussing the report but did not answer the concrete charges. Instead, he accused the document of interfering with Hungarian affairs. He said the Tavares report was an attempt to put the country under guardianship, which is offensive to the Hungarian people and endangers the spirit of the EU. In reaction to that, MEP Guy Verhofstadt pointed out that the statements in the report were not against the Hungarian people but the Hungarian government.