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Hungary: No True Commitment to Restoring the Rule of Law

Selected rule of law and human rights developments in the light of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure

▶️ Hungary: No True Commitment to Restoring the Rule of Law, 2 November 2023

The over a decade-long process of rule of law and democratic backsliding in Hungary finally led EU Member States in December 2022 to put significant financial pressure on the Hungarian government by triggering the EU conditionality mechanism and by linking the country’s access to EU cohesion funds and the Recovery and Resilience Facility to fulfilling various rule of law and fundamental rights criteria related to the independence of the judiciary, anti-corruption, academic freedom, and the rights of LGBTQI+ people and asylum-seekers. Since then, certain legislative steps have been taken to access EU funds, but the tangible and sustained results of these measures are yet to be seen. Several required anti-corruption measures have not been implemented yet or have been complied with only partially, while the issues regarding the rights of LGBTQI+ people and asylum-seekers have not been addressed at all. The judicial reform package adopted in May 2023 brought important changes, but its compliance with EU requirements remains fundamentally deficient, and certain factors pose an inherent risk to the adequate implementation of the new legal framework. Moreover, the shortcomings of the judicial reform also signal that the Government lacks a true commitment to restoring the rule of law.

This is substantiated by the fact that there has been no progress in most of the areas covered by the procedure under Article 7(1) TEU launched with regard to Hungary, and that none of the recommendations have been implemented beyond the ones concerning the judiciary that the European Commission had put forth in its 2022 Rule of Law Report. Changes to the anti-corruption framework and the judicial system happen in an environment that is characterized by a dismantled system of checks and balances, where the Government continues to have excessive regulatory powers and where legal certainty is lacking, where the non-execution of both domestic and international court judgments is a recurring issue, where independent civil society continues to be under pressure, and where various vulnerable groups face rights violations without independent institutions being capable or willing to protect their rights. Therefore, the civil society recommendations in May 2023 in areas covered by the Article 7(1) TEU procedure remain valid.

To elaborate on our conclusions above, in a new paper, we summarise the main rule of law and human rights developments that have unfolded since the May 2023 Council hearing in the Article 7(1) TEU procedure, proposing points of inquiry and recommendations regarding five selected topics:

  1. the Government’s continued excessive regulatory powers;
  2. persisting problems around the independence of the judiciary;
  3. new plans aimed at stifling independent civil society and media;
  4. violations of the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants: non-compliance with CJEU judgments; and
  5. violations of the rights of public education teachers and students.

▶️ Hungary: No True Commitment to Restoring the Rule of Law, 2 November 2023




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Hungarian Helsinki Committee