EP debates developments in Hungary regarding rule of law

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-31 04:33:47|Editor: yan
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BUDAPEST, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The European Parliament (EP) debated recent developments in Hungary regarding the rule of law and fundamental rights, while the Hungarian government was not in the debate, local media reported here on Wednesday.

"We are asking specific questions and we are looking forward to answering these questions," Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission (EC) and European Commissioner for Better Regulation, Inter institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, said about the proceedings against Hungary during the debate that was streamed online. "And if these answers do not comply with European law, then we will act," he said.

"These questions concern the case with the Stop Soros Act, the Central European University and the way in which hundreds of media have been merged into one giant conglomerate without the competition authority being able to check that they are in compliance with the law," Timmermans added.

The debate at the EP is a follow-up of the Sargentini report of the EP, which triggered procedures under Article 7 against Hungary.

The procedures under Article 7 could ultimately strip Hungary of its EU voting rights, citing the "existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded".

Adopted on Sept. 12, 2018, the Sargentini report enumerated a number of concerns about the rule of law in Hungary, including the changes to its electoral system, the independence of the judiciary, corruption issues, freedom of expression, assembly and religion, as well as the rights of minorities and asylum-seekers

In October 2018, as a response, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a resolution that said that the report had "exceeded its jurisdiction and violated Hungary's sovereignty."

"We reject the report because it attacks Hungary on the grounds that it did not take in migrants, refused to accept mandatory resettlement quotas, closed its border and criminalized the organization of illegal migration," the resolution detailed.

But Timmermans made it clear on Wednesday that the proceedings against Hungary were not related to the question of migration: "The Treaty speaks clearly about media independence and the separation of powers. This is not about attacking a country because of its migration policy."

But the Hungarian government rejected the debate is one concerning the "rule of law", insisting it's a result of its rejection to migrant quota imposed by Brussels.

"Let's be clear: There's nothing, no new event, that justifies putting Hungary back on the EP agenda," declared the Hungarian government on its official website, explaining why it did not participate in the debate.