Belgian commissioner presses for continuation of Article 7 procedure against Hungary

By bne IntelliNews December 18, 2019

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders called for the Article 7 procedure against Hungary to be continued when Croatia takes the revolving presidency of the Council of the EU in January to be followed by Germany in the second half.

Speaking at the meeting of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament in Brussels, the Belgian politician said infringement procedures would continue to be used when necessary but added that he hoped a new mechanism would tie compliance to EU funding.

Hungary's new justice minister warned Budapest will resist any European Commission effort to condition EU development funding on rule-of-law standards. Judit Varga said that she is working to have a special clause in the EU’s 2021-27 budget draft to be dropped, as Hungary sees the proposal is used for political ends.

The right-wing government of Viktor Orban claims that Hungary is under scrutiny for objecting migration.

Varga slammed the ongoing legal scrutiny against Hungary in a second hearing on the state of the rule of law last week, saying EU had been divided up into "good and bad member states" and certain forces are looking to punish the countries that say no to the European mainstream position.

The Council presidency conclusions on the evaluation of the annual rule of law dialogue and presentation of the Article 7 procedure against Hungary were on the agenda of the LIBE meeting.

Last autumn, the European Parliament approved a report triggering the Article 7 procedure against Hungary which could ultimately strip the country of its EU voting rights. MEPs voted to launch the procedure because of the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the union is founded.

Prime Minister Orban called the report "an insult to the Hungarian people" and Hungarian lawmakers passed a resolution condemning it.

The Article 7 aims to determine whether a country is at risk of breaching the EU’s founding values. Parliament’s concerns relating to Hungary include judicial independence, freedom of expression, corruption, rights of minorities, and the situation of migrants and refugees. 


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