The European Commission's building in Brussels – Photo: wikipedia

EU Justice Commissioner: EC committed to ensuring respect of rule of law in Hungary

The European Commission remains fully committed to ensuring that the rule of law is respected in Hungary as the unprecedented budgetary measures taken clearly show, the EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said in a debate concerning Hungary in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

Speaking in the debate held in Brussels under the title “Breaches of the Rule of Law and fundamental rights in Hungary and frozen EU funds”, Reynders said the Commission will continue consultations with Hungary on the implementation of all reforms and the fulfilment of all criteria necessary for unlocking the funds.

Despite “a number of progressive steps” the commission will prepare its evaluation once Hungary has fulfilled all requirements and filed its request for accessing the funds, the commissioner said.

Johannes Hahn, commissioner for the EU budget, said the commission was in constant communication with Hungary and was evaluating the country’s proposals to meet the EU’s 27 “super milestones”. Meeting those criteria is crucial for Hungary’s accessing community funding, he said.

Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld said the EU “must not provide Prime Minister Viktor Orban with a podium” through Hungary’s taking over the rotating EU presidency in July 2024.

French Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield said the European Parliament should consider whether to allow the Hungarian government to set the agenda for the EU for six months.

Jean-Paul Garraud, MEP of France’s FN party, said the proposal aimed at stripping Hungary of the EU presidency would be “humiliating for Hungary and the Hungarian people”. He insisted that those claiming to protect the EU treaties would in fact be violating those treaties themselves.

Hungarian Fidesz MEP Balazs Hidveghi said the EP had fallen “hostage to some extremist deputies that have lost control and who are attacking Hungary day and night”. Proponents of the suggestion to deny Hungary the presidency “grossly violate EU law and the EU treaties,” he said.

“Hungarians are a free and independent nation, who decide on their own path to take. The European Parliament is not a superior body to that country,” he added.

Anna Donath, MEP of the opposition Momentum Movement, said the Hungarian government “has refused to abide by the rules of the European Union and has caused serious damage to the whole nation”. She called on the European Commission to oblige the government to abolish the law on teachers’ status, give teachers a 50 percent payrise and launch a comprehensive education reform before allowing it access to community funding. “The only obstacle in Hungary’s way to access EU funds is the Hungarian government,” Donath said.

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