The European Parliament is expected to vote on a report criticising the state of the rule of law in Hungary prepared by its civil liberties committee (LIBE) next Wednesday. The report, authored by Green MEP Judith Sargentini, says there is a “clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values of the European Union”, and calls for launching the Article 7 procedure, which suspends a member state’s voting rights.
In an open letter to MEPs, civil groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Civil Society Europe, the European Policy Institute of the Open Society Foundations, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Climate Action Europe voiced their concerns over what they believe is Hungary’s straying from the common path of the European Union “built on respect by all member states for human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms”.
They said the current Hungarian government “has stepped off this common path, curbing media freedom, freedom of association and undermining the independence of its courts”.
“If unchecked, the deterioration of respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law in Hungary will continue and spread further across Europe,” they wrote. “European leaders have accommodated, coaxed and warned the government of Hungary. Those efforts have proven futile. In fact, the lack of clear action has emboldened Hungary’s increasingly autocratic leadership,” they said.
Experts say next week’s vote is likely to be close, as the LIBE report’s approval will require a 2/3rds majority and an absolute majority among all MEPs.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will participate in the debate on the report on Sept. 11.
Ruling Fidesz said in response that US financier George “Soros’s allies attacked Hungary again, wanting revenge on Hungarians”. Hungary has halted the flow of migrants at its borders and demonstrated that migration is not an inevitable phenomenon that has to be accepted, Balázs Hidvéghi, the party’s communication chief, told public media on Tuesday. He said the NGOs signing the letter “want to flood Europe with migrants” and are on “Soros’s payroll”.