- Hungary has become a “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy”
- Situation has deteriorated in recent years, exacerbated by EU inaction
- MEPs say that further delay in the Article 7 process would amount to a rule of law breach by the Council
- Withhold recovery funds to Hungary until it complies with recommendations and court rulings
European values are under systemic threat in Hungary, says the Civil Liberties Committee, pointing to the latest developments in the country.
In a draft report adopted on Wednesday with 47 votes for, 10 against, and 2 abstentions, MEPs detail their concerns about Hungary, including:
- the functioning of its constitutional and electoral system;
- the independence of the judiciary and of other institutions and the rights of judges;
- corruption and conflicts of interest;
- privacy and data protection;
- freedom of expression, including media pluralism;
- academic freedom;
- freedom of religion;
- freedom of association;
- the right to equal treatment, including LGBTIQ rights;
- the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including Roma and Jews, and protection against hateful statements directed at these minorities;
- the fundamental rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; and
- economic and social rights.
Situation has worsened since 2018, partly due to EU inaction
The Civil Liberties Committee condemns the “deliberate and systematic efforts of the Hungarian government” to undermine European values as enshrined in Article 2 TEU, a situation that has worsened substantially since Parliament triggered the Article 7 procedure in 2018. The lack of decisive EU action has contributed to the emergence of a “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy”, MEPs say.
They deplore the inability of the Council to make meaningful progress to counter democratic backsliding and emphasise that Article 7(1) does not require unanimity to identify a clear risk of a serious breach of EU values, nor to issue concrete recommendations and deadlines. Any further delay in acting under Article 7 rules to protect EU values in Hungary, the text warns, would amount to a breach of the principle of the rule of law by the Council itself.
Avoid misuse of EU money by the Hungarian government
MEPs urge the Commission to make full use of all tools at its disposal and, in particular, budget conditionality. In light of the Russian war against Ukraine and its anti-EU actions, they also call on the Commission to:
- refrain from approving the Hungarian RRF plan until Hungary has fully complied with all relevant European Semester recommendations and implemented all the relevant judgments of the EU Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights;
- exclude from funding those cohesion programmes contributing to the misuse of EU funds or to breaches of the rule of law; and
- apply the Common Provisions Regulation and the Financial Regulation more stringently in order to tackle any misuse of EU funds for political motives.
Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield (Greens/EFA, FR), Parliament’s rapporteur on the situation in Hungary, said: “Following the numerous worrying developments in Hungary since 2018, it was urgent to update the Sargentini report.
The conclusions are a strong call from the majority of political groups; Hungary has turned into a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy, and the lack of EU action has contributed to this breakdown in the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights.”
The draft report is scheduled for a debate and vote at Parliament’s next plenary session on 12 to 15 September in Strasbourg.