MEPs call for further review of the country's media laws - despite the changes voted this week by the Hungarian Parliament - in a resolution tabled by four of the EP's political groups and adopted by the House on Thursday. They also urge the Commission to propose this year an EU directive on media freedom, pluralism and independent governance.
The resolution, tabled by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the Greens/EFA and the European United Left (GUE/NGL), was adopted by 316 votes to 264, with 33 abstentions.
Parliament calls on the Hungarian authorities to further review the media laws on the basis of the remarks and proposals made by several European organisations, including the EP, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. Hungary should repeal and not apply the laws or its provisions that are "found to be incompatible with the letter or spirit" of EU laws and other European conventions, say MEPs.
An alternative draft resolution tabled by the European People's Party (Christian Democrats), welcoming the changes made to the media law, was withdrawn just before the vote.
Parliament calls on the Hungarian authorities to restore independence of media governance and to stop state interference with freedom of expression and their insistence on "balanced coverage". "Over-regulation of media is counterproductive to the existence of an effective pluralism in the public sphere", says the resolution.
Parliament welcomes the Commission’s cooperation with the Hungarian authorities to "bring Hungarian media law into conformity with EU Treaties and law, and the commencement of the amending process at national level." But it "deplores the Commission's decision to target only three points" in the laws, and urges it to examine Hungary's compliance with other related EU legislation. Before the vote on the resolution in plenary, speakers for both the EPP and S&D groups reacted positively to Monday's vote in the Hungarian Parliament, which had passed the agreed amendments to the law.
The OSCE and the Council of Europe have previously pointed to problems relating to political and financial independence of public service media, protecting confidentiality of journalistic sources, unclear definitions and politically unbalanced regulatory machinery with disproportionate powers.
Media laws in Member States: a European issue
MEPs also point out that "media pluralism and freedom continues to be a grave concern in the EU and its Member States, notably in Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic and Estonia". They ask the Commission to propose a directive on media freedom, pluralism and independent governance before the end of this year.