Democracy, freedom and the rule of law in Hungary were the focus of a Civil Liberties Committee hearing on Thursday with representatives of the Hungarian media, civil society and government. Some MEPs called for a “fundamental rights check” to on whether there is a risk of a serious breach of EU values, while others suggested awaiting the outcome of the European Commission’s dialogue with the Hungarian government.
“I continue to have grave concerns about the current situation in Hungary. And these concerns are based on facts, not myths!”, said Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes. She stressed that media freedom matters, not just because it is a fundamental right, but also “because private investors and international institutions need to know they have full access to independent media analysis”, and “the Hungarian authorities should be careful not to give them any other impression”.
Ms Kroes said that the Commission expects two things from the Hungarian government: “First, they should explicitly and transparently ask the Council of Europe for a comprehensive opinion on the compliance of the media legislation (…) with fundamental values. Second, they should accept and implement any concrete recommendations that are made by the Council of Europe”. She asked Hungary’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Public Administration and Justice Tibor Navracsics, whether the Hungarian authorities were willing to do this.
“The Hungarian Government is firmly committed to working with EU institutions”, Mr Navracsics replied. “We are fully committed to democracy and the rule of law”, he stressed, citing the fact that “the Constitutional Court ruled that the media law was not in line with the Constitution and we duly changed it. That is because we have a system of checks and balances”. Here to read more.