Hungary: Council and EPP must choose: „Barroso’s Commission or Orbán?“ urge S&Ds

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and his centre-right government were strongly criticised today in Strasbourg by the European Parliament and Commission for introducing a new round of controversial constitutional reforms undermining the rule of law and Hungarians‘ fundamental rights.

Last year the European Commission started a number of infringement procedures against the Hungarian government, some of which are still pending.

Taking the floor at the European Parliament, S&D Group leader Hannes Swoboda said: „The Council and the European People’s Party (EPP) Group must take a clear stance and clearly say if they support Mr Barroso’s Commission or Mr Orbán’s government.

„The European Union must stand firm and stick to the thorough analysis from the Commission and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.

„We require the Orbán government to return to European standards and if the European Commission and Commission of Venice recommend it, that they reverse the constitutional amendments.

„Mr Orbán is wounding Hungarians‘ civil liberties and rights and – on top of that – is then putting new taxes on them to pay for the resulting EU sanctions.

„Mr Orbán’s political friends are creating a climate where anti-Semitism and anti-Roma statements are back on the agenda, without any reaction from the government.“

S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume said: „We are particularly concerned about worrying trends undermining European values in Hungary. The recent official awards to individuals known for their racism, anti-Semitism and Neo-Nazi tendencies are a very bad sign.

„As Socialists & Democrats, we want to send a strong message of solidarity to the Hungarian citizens and civil society representatives who are standing up to the threats to their basic rights. Contrary to Viktor Orbán’s claims, Europe is the solution not the problem.“

S&D MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, chair of the Parliament’s committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said: „Mr Orbán should stop his pantomime claims that the European Parliament is interfering with Hungary’s domestic politics.

„The European Parliament represents 500 million citizens, including 10 million Hungarian citizens. We are fully entitled to take the side of the citizens we represent and stand up for their rights when they are violated.“