EU inaction has contributed to Hungary becoming a hybrid regime

The lack of decisive action by the European Union has contributed to Hungary becoming a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy.

This is stated in a report by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to the European Parliament, prepared in late April.

According to the text, parliament is concerned about many issues: the way the constitution and electoral system work, the independence of the judiciary, corruption and conflicts of interest, privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, association, and religion. , including academic freedom.

LIBE sees problems in Hungary with the right to equal treatment, the rights of minorities such as Roma and Jews and protection against hatred, the fundamental rights of asylum seekers and refugees, and the exercise of economic and social rights.

What worries LIBE

Problems in the report highlight the transparency and quality of the legislative process, which raise concerns (although a constitutional amendment is forthcoming after July 2023 that would limit the government’s powers) and the newly established private trusts, which receive significant public funding and are run by members. board close to power.

The decision to impose an indefinite state of emergency around the pandemic, along with the weakening of parliamentary scrutiny, is worrying.

The new rules for the appointment of members of the Constitutional Court in the Supreme Beyond the usual procedure combined with the decision to increase the powers of the head of the latter despite the negative opinion of the judicial and advisory judiciary also attracted LIBE’s attention. The powers of the National Judicial Council need to be strengthened to counterbalance the powers of the President of the National Judicial Service (which administers the courts).

The anti-corruption strategy currently being implemented by the European Commission is limited in scope and has shortcomings in areas such as political party funding, lobbying, revolving door policy (the transition from public to private sector), and risks of clientelism. , preferential relations and nepotism at a high level in the administration. Other risks stem from “the links between business and political actors”. Control mechanisms that may affect cases of corruption, as well as the supervision of declarations of assets and interests, remain insufficient.

It is also noted that there were no schemes to support the media during the pandemic, raising questions about media independence from both the decision to overthrow the independent Klubrádió and the significant amount of state funding in the media to indirectly influence them politically.

Systemic threats

In the reasons and preconditions for this assessment, LIBE also assumes that “any risk of a serious breach of values ​​by a Member State … does not only affect the individual Member State but also affects others”. According to the report, the problems in Hungary have not been addressed for several years, and new ones have emerged in the meantime, which “harms the union’s image, effectiveness, and reliability in protecting fundamental rights, human rights, and democracy around the world”.

“Systemic threat to values” in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is found in previous resolutions of the European Parliament on the subject, so LIBE is concerned that the procedure under Art. 7, triggered against Hungary and in theory risking Budapest being left without the right to vote, is not crowned with a result by the European Union. Recommendations have been made to hold a hearing on the subject at least once every six months of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and to issue recommendations from the Council as soon as possible (this is not the first such call).

The assessment of Hungary as a “hybrid regime” was last reaffirmed by the Freedom House Foundation.

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