Wednesday

23rd Jan 2019

MEPs to discuss civil liberties in Hungary

  • Orban (l) is a member of the EU's largest political group, the centre-right EPP, as are many other EU leaders, like former Polish PM Tusk - now EU council president (Photo: premier.gov.pl)

Political leaders in the European Parliament decided Thursday (30 April) that the legislature should discuss Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban's recent comments about reintroducing the death penalty, and a controversial Hungarian government survey on immigration.

Parliament president Martin Schulz, and the heads of the EP's seven political groups, convened on Thursday morning to urge the parliament's civil liberties committee to "address the situation in Hungary as a matter of urgency".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

On Tuesday (28 April) Orban said a possible reintroduction of capital punishment “should be put on the agenda in Hungary”.

Hungary abolished the death penalty in 1990.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, to which all EU countries are a signatory, prohibits reintroducing the death penalty.

Non-EU-member Belarus is the only country on the European continent that has capital punishment. (And Kazakhstan, which is partly in Asia).

Schulz noted that reintroduction of the death penalty “is not compatible with EU membership".

On Thursday afternoon Schulz announced he and Orban had "an open and frank phone conversation" - terminology often used to indicate disagreement.

"Prime Minister Orban assured President Schulz that the Hungarian government has no plans to take any steps to introduce the death penalty. Prime Minister Orban further assured the President that the Hungarian government will respect and honour all European treaties and legislation", the statement from Schulz read.

MEPs are also worried about a questionnaire on migration, with "leading and manipulative” questions such as whether “the mismanagement of the immigration question by Brussels may have something to do with increased terrorism”.

According to an EP statement, Schulz will contact the chair of the civil liberties committee, British socialist Claude Moraes.

The MEP's office told this website on Thursday afternoon that the two had not yet spoken.

The first scheduled meeting of the civil liberties committee is on Wednesday (6 May) in Brussels, but it is not yet clear if 'Hungary' will be put on the agenda then.

EPP membership

The issue was briefly discussed Wednesday at the parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg.

Left-wing and liberal members of the parliament criticised the leader of the centre-right group EPP, German MEP Manfred Weber.

Orban's Fidesz party has been a member of the EPP since 2000, a fact that has often led to criticism of the largest parliamentary group in the past.

Several MEPs from other groups on Wednesday called on Weber to expel Fidesz.

“I'm going to speak to Mr Orban. I'm not going to rely on press articles”, said Weber.

Orban gives Putin warm welcome

Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban on Tuesday became the first EU leader to receive Russian president Vladimir Putin for a bilateral visit since last June.

Rights NGOs face fresh threats in EU

While ongoing crackdowns in Poland and Hungary have put the spotlight on rights groups, NGOs are now under new political and financial pressure across the EU, the Fundamental Rights Agency said.

News in Brief

  1. EU hits Mastercard with €570m fine
  2. Romanian minister prepares to cancel corruption cases
  3. Sefcovic: no gas supply problems this winter
  4. Report: Commission warning on passport-sale schemes
  5. France summons Italian ambassador over colonial remark
  6. May U-turn on fee for EU nationals in UK
  7. French data watchdog gives Google €50m fine
  8. EU hits Russians with sanctions over Salisbury attack

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty
  2. May pushes defeated Brexit deal, offers no Plan B
  3. European Parliament targets 'fake' political groups
  4. What is fate of non-euro EU states after Brexit?
  5. Turkish NBA star takes on Erdogan
  6. 'Meme ban' still on table in EU copyright bill, says MEP
  7. Brexit power grab by MPs hangs over May's 'Plan B'
  8. Polish mayor's funeral marred by Tusk TV dispute

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us