Debate on Hungary - Plenary April 2017 © EU 2017 -EP  

Political group leaders and MEPs gave their views on Hungary’s new education law, perceived as targeting the Central European University, the tightening of rules for NGOs and asylum seekers and a government survey entitled “National Consultation - Let’s stop Brussels!”.

Many MEPs took the view that the new education law is an attack on academic freedom and NGOs are being targeted to suppress critical voices.

Some pointed out that the EU has been passively witnessing a systematic erosion of democracy in Hungary and called for tougher measures. Others defended the Hungarian government’s moves by arguing that civil society needs rules and member states have the right to regulate education. Hungary is being attacked for not signing up for open borders and a multicultural ideology, they added.

EU Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said that its legal analysis of the new education law had confirmed its incompatibility with the EU law and announced an infringement procedure. He criticised the Hungarian government survey for making “false allegations” about the EU’s intentions.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that accusations that his government wanted to close the CEU were false and portrayed the national consultation as a democratic tool. The law on NGOs follows a US example, he added. “We would like to reform the EU, but Hungary is unquestionably committed to Europe”, he said.

Click on the hyperlinks below to view live replays of individual statements.

Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the Commission (part.1)

Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the Commission (part.2)

Viktor Orbán , Hungarian Prime Minister (part.1)

Viktor Orbán, Hungarian Prime Minister (part.2)

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE)

Gianni Pittella (S&D, IT)

Zdzisław Krasnodebski (ECR, PL)

Guy Verhofstadt (ADLE, BE)

Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, DE)

Philippe Lamberts (Greens/EFA, BE)

Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK)

Matteo Salvini (ENF, IT)