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Thirteen European Union countries expressed concern over Hungary’s new law which enhances government powers to tackle the novel coronavirus epidemic in a joint statement on Wednesday.

“In this unprecedented situation, it is legitimate that Member States adopt extraordinary measures to protect their citizens and overcome the crisis,” the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden said in the statement published on the websites of their respective foreign ministries.

The countries added, however, that they were “deeply concerned about the risk of violations of the principles of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights arising from the adoption of certain emergency measures”.

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They said Hungary should limit emergency measures to “what is strictly necessary” which should be proportionate and temporary in nature. In addition, the measures should be subject to regular scrutiny and must respect the principles of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights as well as international legal obligations. The emergency measures must not restrict the freedom of expression or the media, the statement added.

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Member states must work together to overcome the coronavirus crisis and uphold European principles and values, they said. “We therefore support the European Commission initiative to monitor the emergency measures and their application to ensure the fundamental values of the Union are upheld, and invite the General Affairs Council to take up the matter when appropriate,” the statement said.

In the featured photo illustration: PM Viktor Orbán (standing) and Fidesz parliamentary group leader Máté Kocsis (on the left, sitting). Photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI