Europe of Human Rights

The situation in Hungary seems to be more and more alarming. The ruling party FIDESZ, headed by Victor Orban, is undertaking legislative initiatives which have a degrading impact on respect of human rights and democratic standards. The recent developments, mainly the reform of the Central Bank, despite the negative assessment of the European Commission may serve as an example. The law adopted on 30 December 2011 merges the competences of the Central Bank and the Financial Control. Moreover, the amendments diminish the competences of the President of the Central Bank. This approach will hinder the possibility for financial aid attributed by the International Monetary Fund.

More of dubious legislative changes have been observed in the recent year. Starting with the adoption of the Constitution changes in November 2010, which importantly limited the competences of the Constitutional Tribunal in tax and customs relating cases.

Year 2011 and the beginning of the Hungarian EU presidency was characterized by a turmoil relating to the new media law. Than the adoption of the new Constitution (which entered into force on 1 January 2012) opened the possibility for power concentration in the hand of the ruling party and its strengthening in the future parliamentarian elections. The new Constitution changed the rules of attributing Hungarian citizenship, enabling to acquire it easily by Hungarian minorities leaving in the neighborhood countries (Romania, Slovakia and Croatia).

Moreover, subsequent and far reaching changes of the Constitution have been adopted at the end of 2011, which among others, recognize the Socialist Party as the inheritor of the communist party and thereof as being a criminal organization. Persecutions may easily follow. Constitution changes impact also the independence of justice, by the creation of a new body supervising the judiciary. Throughout these changes FIDESZ is taking control over the main State institutions.

All this together brings to a conclusion, that in the middle of the EU we have a non-democratic state, which become such in a very short period of time, without any reaction from EU institutions or other member states. Bound by the homogeneity clause (art. 6 Treaty on European Union) member states should act to assure an EU composed of stable democracies. The lack of reaction throughout the first half of 2011 was interpreted by the interest of the EU presidency. A fairly concern from the EU institutions could be observed in relation to the media law and to the recent amendment of Central Bank provisions. During the Polish presidency, no clear-cut reaction could be observed. However, the United States position was always unequivocal. Already in June 2011, Hillary Clinton expressed a disagreement vis a vis V. Orban politics. Couple of days ago the United States called on Hungary to respect democracy principles and international obligations.

As the situation in Hungary is becoming alarming, EU officials should envisage the possibility of Hungarian membership suspension on the basis of art. 7 of the Treaty on European Union. In such a case the Council may suspend the Member State’s right to vote as well as certain of its other rights if the state violates human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

Before undertaking such drastic and unprecedentedly measures member states should not remain indifferent, demonstrating more solidarity with the Hungarian nation.

Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, “Europe of Human Rights”

Based on papers prepared by Adam Bodnar, Magdalena M. Baran, Piotr Wciślik and Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, published in Kultura Liberalna, 3 January 2012, available at:


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