Sunday

24th Jan 2021

Kroes threatens nuclear option against Hungary

The European Commission has indicated it is ready to use its nuclear option - Article 7 on political sanctions - against Hungary if it continues to flout EU law.

In a testy exchange of views between EU digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes and Hungary's deputy prime minister Tibor Navracsics at a European Parliament committee hearing in Brussels on Thursday (9 February), Kroes said she would ask the commission to take "appropriate action" if needed.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Kroes left the room abruptly, without stopping for normal pleasantries (Photo: European Parliament)

Her spokesperson later confirmed to this website that she means Article 7.

The EU Treaty clause says the commission can trigger a procedure to determine if an EU country is in "serious and persistent breach" of treaty "principles." If found guilty, the other EU member states cans suspend its voting rights in the EU Council.

The Kroes-Navracsics dispute concerns a set of new media laws in Hungary which appear to threaten media diversity.

The commission in January already started a separate legal procedure against Budapest in January over its new constitution, said to undermine the independence of judges and the central bank.

Kroes told Navracsics she expects him to ask the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe for an opinion on the media laws and to implement its recommendations.

With the Strasbourg council already due to publish opinions on the Hungarian constitution in March, Navracsic replied - to a round of laughs - "Only if these proposals do not run counter to the constitution of the Hungarian aquis."

"That is different from what you were answering in my office," Kroes said.

"I beg your pardon, no madame, it's exactly the same thing," Navracsics hit back.

Kroes' remark on "approporiate action" was the last thing she said before the panel discussion ended. She left the room abruptly, without stopping to say goodbye or other pleasantries.

The Council of Europe's spokesman late told this website: "Hungary has yet to request an opinion from us on media."

Hungary risks losing EU funds, ministers say

EU finance ministers have warned Hungary it may lose EU funds if it fails to fix its excessive deficit. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Viktor Orban met EU officials in Brussels to discuss the ongoing row over changes to Hungary's domestic laws.

MEPs voice 'serious concern' on Hungary's democracy

The EU parliament has passed a resolution tabled by left-wing and liberal deputies urging Hungary to respect EU laws. But the right of the house says it is inappropriate and bad on timing.

Hungary responds to EU infringement procedure

Hungary sent around a 100-hundred page response on Friday to the European Commission concerning three infringement proceedings launched against the country in January.

EU gives Hungary one month to fix laws

The EU commission on Wednesday gave Hungary a one-month deadline to change its controversial laws or face court cases in Luxembourg, just as Budapest is struggling to secure a loan from international lenders.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary buys Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
  2. Netherlands imposes curfew to halt new corona variant
  3. Green NGO fails to stop Europe's biggest gas burner
  4. Swedish minister reminds Europe of Russia's war
  5. Spain: Jesuit order apologises for decades of sexual abuse
  6. NGOs urge Borrell to address Egypt rights 'crisis'
  7. EU conflict-area education aid favours boys
  8. EU told to avoid hydrogen in building renovations

Opinion

Rule-of-law deal: major step for Europe of values

At the very moment when an incumbent president across the Atlantic was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
  2. EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up
  3. Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors
  4. MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute
  5. EU warns UK to be 'very careful' in diplomatic status row
  6. A digital euro - could it happen?
  7. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  8. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us