European Parliament President David Sassoli asked the European Commission to assess whether the new laws introduced in Hungary comply with the Treaty on the European Union (TEU).
“We want to get out of the crisis with our democracies intact,” Sassoli stated, calling EU’s Executive Body to examine Hungary’s compliance with Article 2 of TEU.
“The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail,” Article 2 TEU outlines.
On Tuesday, Sassoli heavily criticised Hungary’s move to vote in favour of a draft bill that would provide the government of Viktor Orbán with sweeping powers, under the pretext of the Covid-19 emergency, as it could lead to severe violations of fundamental freedoms.
All EU member states have a duty to uphold and protect democracy and the founding values of our Union. Parliaments must remain open and the press must remain free. Nobody can be allowed to use this pandemic to undermine our freedoms. https://t.co/eYj1armfOl
— David Sassoli (@EP_President) March 31, 2020
The Hungarian Parliament approved on Monday a law that enables the ruling Fidesz party to rule by decree without a specific time limit and without proper oversight. It also foresees the cancellation of all elections and the ban of referenda, as well as hefty fines and even imprisonment for journalists spreading fake news on Covid-19.
Ursula von der Leyen issued a statement on Tuesday, warning member-states over the proportionality of their emergency measures to deal with the novel Coronavirus. However, the Commission’s President did not explicitly mention Hungary but made a general statement instead.
“It is of outmost importance that emergency measures are not at the expense of our fundamental principles and values as set out in the Treaties. Democracy cannot work without free and independent media, Von der Leyen said, adding that “It is of outmost importance that emergency measures are not at the expense of our fundamental principles and values as set out in the Treaties. Democracy cannot work without free and independent media.”