The EU should start immediately to monitor threats to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Wednesday. The EU Commission should assess whether the combined effect of government measures there has led to a “systemic deterioration”, which, if the Commission fails to address it, could trigger similar developments in other member states too, it adds.
The resolution, passed by 327 votes to 293, with 61 abstentions, reiterates Parliament's call on the Commission "to initiate immediately an in-depth monitoring process concerning the situation of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary", as part of the “rule of law framework”, a Commission tool designed to tackle emerging systemic threats to the rule of law in an EU member state.
Look at combined impact
The resolution criticises the Commission’s assessment of developments in Hungary, presented in a debate on 2 December, as focusing "mainly on marginal, technical aspects of the legislation, while ignoring the trends, patterns and combined effect of measures (..)."
Threats to rule of law
Recent Hungarian government measures have "rendered access to international protection extremely difficult". The rules "unjustifiably criminalised refugees, migrants and asylum seekers", and the government uses "xenophobic rhetoric linking migrants to social problems or security risks", observes the text.
MEPs note that these latest measures come on top of earlier steps that contribute to “a systemic deterioration in the rule of law and fundamental rights”, including:
Risk of contagion
Parliament warns that the EU’s failure to act against Hungary so far may be prompting the emergence of similar developments in other member states.
Procedure: non legislative resolution
Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union allows for the suspension of voting rights in member states where there is a clear risk of a serious breach of EU values. •
The Rule of Law Framework is a complementary tool addressing systemic and ongoing threats to the rule of law in a member state before they reach a level where the application of Article 7 is necessary.