Sunday

4th Dec 2022

EU: Ukraine war makes internal rule-of-law fight essential

  • MEPS said 16 NGOs who campaigned against the referendum on LGBTI issues in Hungary were now facing fines totalling €24,000 (Photo: Maria Komarova)
Listen to article

Hungary has said the EU should demonstrate solidarity and unity while the war is raging in Ukraine — instead of focusing on policing internal rule-of-law breaches.

But top EU officials have defended ongoing procedures against both Hungary and Poland, over concerns of judicial independence and democratic backsliding.

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

"We are sufficiently mature as democracies… to debate issues that have to do with our model and are as essential as fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in parallel of that profound strength of the unity facing this war, " French minister for EU affairs, Clément Beaune, said Tuesday (12 April), after a meeting with his counterparts in Luxembourg.

EU ministers discussed the state of rule of law in Luxembourg, Hungary, the Netherlands, Malta and Austria, which were raised in an annual report prepared by the EU Commission last year.

But Hungary received special attention, since the country is also under the so-called Article 7 sanctions procedure — together with Poland.

Hungary has agreed to resume dialogue over rule-of-law issues, of which the justice system, the framework to tackle corruption, the media landscape and institutional issues related to checks and balances remain a "concern," EU commissioner for justice Didier Reynders said.

Budapest suspended its participation in the rule-of-law dialogue until the Hungarian elections, where nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán's ruling Fidesz party secured early this month another majority in parliament.

But Hungary's justice minister, Judit Varga, previously pointed out that the EU should be focused on wartime unity rather than on highly controversial rule-of-law standards.

"We should focus on topics that unite us, instead of those that drive a wedge between us," she said on Tuesday, ahead of the meeting.

Reynders, for his part, argued that the war in Ukraine shows "how important it is to promote the rule of law and to protect it within the European Union."

Last week, the commission finally launched the bloc's new rule-of-law mechanism for the first time against Hungary — which could trigger sanctions, such as suspending EU funds.

But the formal decision still has to be taken by the college of commissioners.

In parallel, the commission has decided to withhold the approval of the recovery plans of Poland and Hungary over rule-of-law concerns.

Minorities

Also on Tuesday, MEPs from the parliamentary intergroup on LGBTI rights slammed the Hungarian government for suing NGOs who campaigned against a referendum on LGBTI issues — which took place the same day as the elections and ended up being invalid.

A total of 16 NGOs are facing fines, totalling €24,000, EU lawmakers said.

"This highlights why the values of the EU such as democracy and fundamental rights are under siege in Hungary," said centre-right MEP Maria Walsh.

Walsh said that it is imperative that the Article 7 sanctions procedure leads to results. This procedure could result in the suspension of Hungary's voting rights.

The EU Commission is taking Budapest in front of the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice, over a law that the EU executive says is discriminating against LGBTI people.

MEPs urge EU states, commission to act now on Hungary

European lawmakers urged the EU Commission and governments to act on Hungary after the EU executive said it would start a legal probe against the Orbán government which could lead to the suspension of EU funds.

Hungary's Orbán secured fourth consecutive win

In a surprisingly massive win, Hungary's nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán, Russian president Vladimir Putin's closest EU ally, has secured another majority in Sunday's general election against a united opposition.

Opinion

Orbán, Ukraine, Putin and Hungary's election

By pursuing Putin as a close ally in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Ukraine, Orbán alienated himself from all other European leaders. Now, he should continue to distance itself from Putin and those linked to him.

EU will support investigation into war crimes in Ukraine

The European Commission has pledged to support investigations into potential war crimes in Ukraine — following reports of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Bucha, Irpin, and other Ukrainian cities.

MEPs urge EU not to relax policing rule-of-law amid war

European lawmakers debated the lack of progress in the EU sanctions probe against Poland and Hungary, and warned Russia's invasion of Ukraine should not be a reason to turn away from rule-breaking within the bloc.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us