EP draft resolution says Hungary's Sovereignty Protection Act violates principle of free and fair elections

April 18. 2024. – 11:27 AM



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"The Sovereignty Protection Act and the establishment of the Sovereignty Protection Authority endowed with a wide scope of power violates the principle of free and fair elections” – says the five-party draft resolution obtained by Népszava, which will be voted on by the European Parliament’s plenary session next week.

The text was tabled by the Christian Democrats, the Socialists, the Liberals, the Green Party and the far left. The draft suggests that member states should move on to the next stage of the "Article 7" procedure, which was launched against Hungary in 2018 but hasn't moved forward since. This should be done by issuing recommendations stating that Hungary has seriously and persistently violated EU values, and would require a four-fifths majority in the procedure which is in its first phase, while the second part might involve a unanimous decision on withdrawing certain EU rights. According to the draft resolution, the situation in Hungary has only worsened since 2018, in part because the European institutions have failed to act decisively.

Hungary is due to take over the presidency of the European Union from 1 July, but MEPs are already voicing concerns and criticising member states for tolerating representatives of the Hungarian government chairing EU Council meetings on democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and the protection of the EU's financial interests. The EP has already questioned Hungary's ability to credibly hold the presidency of the EU Council in a resolution before, but it has no legal say in the matter and there have only been some scattered remarks in the Council of member states.

The Parliament's draft resolution also discusses the Integrity Authority, set up in exchange for EU money, which the text argues is not enough for resolving the problems. It proposes strengthening the institution's investigative powers. The draft also mentions that certain companies are being excluded from the Hungarian market "due to systemic discriminatory practices". The EP calls on the European Commission to investigate whether Hungarian legislation allowing such practices is in line with applicable European law and, if necessary, to take complaints to the EU Court of Justice.

A December decision freed up billions of euros for Hungary, but according to the draft, there are no adequate financial control mechanisms or public procurement procedures in place to ensure that EU funds are spent properly. The writers of the text argue that the decision should be reviewed – partly because of recent measures introduced in Hungary and partly because of the audio recording of former justice minister Judit Varga. They said that the latter implied that the prosecutor's office was not independent and that criminal proceedings might be subject to political interference. (The body has already launched a lawsuit last month over the December decision which unblocked some of the funds.)

According to the rapporteurs, payments of EU funding to Hungary should be suspended until the government has fulfilled all the conditions for their release and the measures have been proven effective in practice too.

Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch had already indicated last week that on April 22-25, at the last session prior to the EP elections, "a resolution that slams Hungary in every way and echoes the lies the dollar left is well known for would be adopted".

Although the resolution is not legally binding, politically it expresses the views of the party families supporting it. The five political groups supporting the text are able to secure a comfortable majority for the proposal in the EP. In June, the EP will be re-elected and the new members will then have to vote on the next president of the EU quasi-government, the European Commission, as well as the entire body.

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