Archive item

Title: Debate of Wednesday, 17 April 2013, about Hungary and the Rule of Law (transcript)
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Publisher: European Parliament
Files: European Parliament Debate Wednesday 17 April 2013.pdf
Source: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+CRE+20130417+SIT+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN
Abstract: The European Parliament held a Plenary Debate on 17 April 2013 about the constitutional changes in Hungary (the so-called "Fourth Amendment"). The transcript of that debate can be found on pages 1-13 of this document. Each speaker's remarks are rendered in the language they spoke in. The debate was opened with statements by Lucinda Creighton, speaking on behalf of the European Council, and Vice-President of the European Commission Viviane Reding. The latter statement is available in this archive separately, with its own abstract. Their statements were followed by comments of MEPs speaking on behalf of the political groups in the Parliament. On behalf of the EPP, which the Hungarian government party Fidesz belongs to, Frank Engel said that the European Commission should be left to do its work and the Hungarian authorities then will be "urgently requested to comply with what the European institutions will deem advisable and necessary". Personally, he added, "I wouldn't have formulated a number of constitutional provisions the way it was done, but that does not change anything about the legitimacy of the text". On behalf of the social-democratic S&D, Hannes Swoboda argued that "in no EU member state ... is it permissible to simply elevate laws to constitutional status just to prevent the Constitutional Court from acting". Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the liberal ALDE, called on the Commission and Parliament to start Article 7 infringement proceedings. He also criticized the limited scope of Reding's remarks, saying "far more is at stake," such as the discrimination of gay couples, religious freedom, mobility rights of students and judiciary independence. On behalf of the Green group, Rebecca Harms recalled that the breach of the rule of law in Hungary had started with the media laws and, like Swoboda before, decried the smearing of Commissioner Reding in Hungary. Regarding Article 7, however, she called it like a nuclear bomb: "you have it, but you can't really use it". Speaking for the leftist EUL/NGL, Marie-Christine Vergiat mentioned that freedom of expression and political advertising, as well as higher education, the rights of homeless and other issues, are involved in the Fourth Amendment's clauses. In her response to the comments, Reding agreed that Article 7 "is a kind of atom bomb which you ... think twice or three times about using," and suggested the EU needs an intermediate instrument. She added, however, that "we will not wait until June before we embark on infringement proceedings," which might cover "at least" the three points she had raised in her opening statement (namely, restrictions on political ads, the processing of fines imposed by the European Court of Justice, and the powers of the National Office for the Judiciary).
Publication/ adoption date: 2013-04-17
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Language: other
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