EP stands up for democracy in Hungary during pandemic

The Hungarian National Assembly is scheduled to vote on 31 March on a set of amendments to the country’s penal code.

The Civil Liberties Committee concerned about the expansion of “state of danger” measures and the proposed changes to Hungary’s criminal law, EP press service reported on Monday. MEPs highlight that any extraordinary measure adopted by the Hungarian government in response to the pandemic must respect the EU’s founding values.

Following developments in Hungary, where the government is trying to expand its executive authority in order to rule by decree while the country remains in a “state of danger”, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (S&D, ES) issued a statement in his capacity as Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee. “On behalf of the Civil Liberties Committee, I would like to express our concern about the Hungarian National Assembly’s intention to vote on extending the ‘state of danger’ in Hungary and the related changes to the Criminal Code. We are aware that member states have a responsibility to take protective measures in these difficult times, but these measures should always ensure that fundamental rights, rule of law and democratic principles are protected. In this context, we would call on the Commission to assess if the proposed bill complies with the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union and to remind member states of their responsibility to respect and protect these common values”.

The Hungarian government tabled a bill on 23 March, which would authorise the executive to rule by decree if adopted. Although the Hungarian legislature did not approve the proposal, the governing Fidesz-KDNP alliance can still push the bill through Parliament next Tuesday, leveraging its two-thirds majority.

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