Tag Archives: Hungary

MEPs against funding Hungary

Strasbourg 24.11.2022 Commission and Council should resist pressure from Hungary and go ahead with adopting the proposed rule of law conditionality measures to suspend EU cohesion funds.

In a resolution passed on Thursday by 416 votes in favour, 124 against and 33 abstentions, MEPs say that the 17 remedial measures negotiated by the Commission and Hungary are “not sufficient to address the existing systemic risk to the EU’s financial interests”, even if implemented fully.

They call on EU member states to adopt the proposed measures under the Conditionality Regulation in order to protect the EU budget against breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary, and to lift them only after the Hungarian remedial measures have had a sustainable effect. “If these measures are reversed in the future, the Union should proceed to financial correction”, they add.

Regarding Hungary’s recovery and resilience plan (RRF), they deplore that, because of the government’s actions, recovery funds have not yet reached the Hungarian people. According to the EP, the risk of misuse of EU funds in Hungary remains and the Commission should not approve Hungary’s RRF plan until the country has fully complied with all recommendations in the field of the rule of law and all relevant judgments of the EU Court and the Court of Human Rights.

Pressure from Hungary and final beneficiaries

MEPs call on the Commission and Council not to give in to the pressure Hungary is exerting on them by blocking crucial EU decisions, such as €18 billion in macro-financial aid to Ukraine and the global minimum corporate tax rate deal. This “abuse” of the rule on voting by unanimity should “not have any impact” on the decisions regarding the Hungarian recovery plan and the application of the rule of law conditionality legislation, the text says.

Parliament stresses that final beneficiaries of EU funds should not be deprived of support due to their government’s lack of cooperation, and call on the Commission to find ways to distribute EU funds via local governments and NGOs.

Finally, MEPs complain that the proposal to trigger the Conditionality Regulation against Hungary has been long overdue and does not go far enough -“after a long delay and with too limited a scope”. Parliament urges the Commission to take action also concerning other breaches of the rule of law, particularly those relating to the independence of the judiciary.
On 18 September 2022, the Commission proposed to freeze 7.5 billion euro in EU funds for Hungary, citing corruption and public procurement concerns, after having triggered the rule of law conditionality mechanism against Hungary in April.

After negotiations with the Commission, Hungary has presented 17 remedial measures, such as creating an anti-corruption task force and changes to its public procurement rules, to address the concerns.

The Council has until 19 December to take a decision, by qualified majority, based on a Commission proposal.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government has said that it was willing to pay its share of support for Ukraine but would rather pay it bilaterally than through the EU’s joint borrowing.

“The government continues to be committed to take part in financial support to war-gripped Ukraine,” the decree reads.

Hungarian forced labour victims for justice

Brussels 17.11.2022 “The deportation of the Hungarians of Slovakia for forced labour 1946-1947” hearing took place in the European Parliament on November 16 under the chairmanship of the MEP Jordi Sole from the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party, Spain, belonging to the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
“In order to understand the question of deportation of the Hungarian population of Slovakia towards the Czech countries some enlightenment is necessary”, said the keynote speaker Mikulas Krivansky, a Slovakian born Hungarian journalist, President of the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants.

At the end of the Second World War the Czechoslovak leaders were deeply convinced that reconstituted Czechoslovakia had to become ethnically homogeneous.
The Conference of Potsdam accepted the evacuation of Germans but opposed the expatriation of Hungarians. As a consequence the Czechoslovak government asked the Peace Conference to compel Hungary to accept a Treaty on the exchange of populations, such a Treaty being signed on Febrary 27th 1946.
The Czechoslovak authorities decided to proceed to an unilateral and violent solution of this issue.
Instrumentalising the Law 88/1945 on general work liability (obligation) the displacement of the Hungarians towards the Czech country proceeded.

Comparing the Law itself and its application, in fact it has been used as a pretext to the displacement of the Hungarian population.

By virtue of such a law, in the case of an urgent and public interest work, it was foreseen, for a year at most, to impose the obligatory work on men aged from 16 to 55 and women from 18 to 45.

Those not to be constrained to work were gravid women and women with one child under 15, nor women having at least one dependent person. Married workers could only be called if the number of workers was not sufficient.

In spite of this, as early as November 19th 1946, forced transfers were executed, army and police troops encircled the Hungarian districts along the Danube.
The deportations produced many tragic victims and caused a lot of suffering; newborn babies at the breast and elderly people died, others suffered serious illnesses.
The displaced families were posted as rural servants or daily-workers for Czech big farmers and landowners.
Such a proceeding was contrary to the Czechoslovak laws, because the authorities had repeatedly violated the legislation in force.

According to the sources of the ministry of Social Affairs, in January 1948, 11 746 “economic units”, a term used to designate families, were deported, namely 44 129 persons.

The majority of the victims managed to go back to Slovakia after the communists took power in 1948.
Only after the change in 1989, did the victims express their claims, demanding justice to be served.
This is the reason why the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants was founded. The Association represents 3 000 registered victims.

During the two mandates of Mr. Dzurinda’s Government ( 1998-2002 and 2002-2006 ) the Slovak Parliament voted for laws aiming to compensate certain victims of the past. These laws covered the 1939 to 1945 fascist period and the 1948 to 1990 communist period but excluded from any compensation the victims of the 1945 to 1948 period considered as a democratic one.
The exclusion of the victims of forced labour from all compensation is based on ethnicity and constitutes, in our opinion, a serious discrimination between the different groups of Slovak citizens.

Subsequently 1 500 members of our association have written personally a letter to the Prime Minister Mr. Dzurinda and to the European Commissioner Mr. Romano Prodi. The European Deputies mobilized in favour of the victims of forced labour. The question was put forward within various Parliamentary Committees: Nelly Maes, Miquel Mayol i Raynal, Bernat Joan i Marí travelled many times to Slovakia to attend the General Assembly of our Association.
Written questions were raised at the Commission and at the Commissioner for Enlargement Mr. Verheugen.
The MEP Erik Meijer confronted the latter four pertinent questions, but got only vague answers based on evasive generalities.

img_8466

The Czech Government under Mr. Jiří Paroubek finally decided to make a humanitarian gesture towards the victims of the past. Thanks to the intervention of many European Deputies from a variety of political adherences, the Czech citizens of Hungarian origin, victims of forced labour, are now included in the Declaration of the Czech Government.
In the light of the preceding facts one is entitled to raise a question: has there then been indifference or complicity on behalf of the decision-making politicians?
To sum up the the main violations of legality incurred in by the state authorities are the following:

– Use of coercion and armed force
– Non-respect of the prescriptions of the law when being enforced
– Non-respect of salary related provisions in force
– Absence of proper housing and food as indicated by law
– Exploitation of child labour
– Denial to include in pension schemes the period of work
– Absence of all benefits issuing from social security coverage.

“We believe that all those who have been through these works, contributed to the reconstruction of the Republic caused by World War II, they deserve recognition for their dignifying effort. Many are those, among which are the MEPs, who feel there is a compelling need for legislation aimed at repairing prejudice caused to the Slovak citizens – victims of forced labour” Krivansky continued.

The recent role of the European Parliament and elected representatives in matters of forced labour is reflected in the decisions taken against companies resorting to these practices.
The EU ban of products from forced labour is an encouraging gesture for our struggle for justice.

Presentetion by Mr. Krivansky, President of the Association of Victims of Deportations and their Descendants – Slovakia, during the Public Hearing held by MEP Jordi SOLÉ in Brussel on Nov.16th 2022

img_8469

Hungary prepares for 1M Ukraine refugees

Brussels 25.03.2022 The Hungarian government position on the war in Ukraine, as Prime Minister Orbán reiterated on a number of occasions in recent weeks, remains clear and concise:

“We cannot allow Hungary to be dragged into an armed conflict, but we will continue to help all those fleeing war. So far, we’ve welcomed nearly 600,000 refugees from Ukraine, making Hungary the second-biggest host country after Poland; and we will continue to do our best to help those fleeing the war as we have done in the past” Orban said.

To this end, the government has organised care for refugees from Ukraine. By taking the necessary government decisions and coordinating the work of the armed forces, police, disaster relief services, government agencies, local authorities, health workers and volunteers, the government has ensured that the care of refugees is ongoing and covers everything from asylum procedures to treatment of the sick or wounded arriving in our country.

The government is also coordinating the accommodation of refugees from Ukraine, even helping them find a job, should they choose to stay in Hungary mid- to long-term

Help points have been set up near all border-crossing points on the Ukrainian-Hungarian border; these are available 24/7 to provide acute medical care, transport, accommodation and other assistance.

PM Orbán spent the second half of last week visiting towns and villages close to the Ukrainian border and confirmed that “everything is going smoothly.” According to him, “coordination at the border is working well, and, in the coming weeks, we will be able to continue to help all those in need.”

In Budapest, the Hungarian government turned a major sports and concert hall, called the BOK Sports Hall, into a humanitarian transit point, with more than 4,400 square meters of indoor space where refugees can receive a variety of services available to them. Since March 21, the transit point has been open around the clock and provides food, drink, medical care, sanitation, travel arrangements, a children’s corner and internet access, in cooperation with charities and volunteers. Additionally, Hungarian Railways (MÁV) is operating an international ticket office at the transit point where refugees can collect their solidarity tickets. For those traveling on from the transit point, special buses are available to the Keleti and Nyugati railway stations as well as Ferenc Liszt Airport, and for those staying in Hungary, accommodation is provided.

Meanwhile, through the National Humanitarian Coordination Council, the government is coordinating the collection of aid, donations, humanitarian aid supplies, and the work of domestic relief organizations.

On top of this, Hungary has organised healthcare for refugees, for everything from treating sick children to helping cancer patients, and GPs and ambulance staff can request Ukrainian-language assistance if they need interpretation.

A 24-hour hotline is available to provide information in Hungarian, Ukrainian and English on issues of importance to refugees. These include the procedures for recognition as an asylum seeker, border crossing, entry, and required documentation; the help desk also tries to offer assistance in individual life situations. The hotline is available at the following phone numbers: 06/80-310-310 from Hungary, 0-800/504-546 from Ukraine and +36/1-550-1828 internationally.

When it comes to material support, Hungary has provided around HUF 2 billion in humanitarian aid to date, including HUF 1.35 billion within the framework of the Hungary Helps Program, utilized to help local communities in Transcarpathia. In addition, Hungary has sent HUF 600 million worth of aid and disaster relief equipment so far.

The Hungarian government has recently provided HUF 500 million worth of support to each of the six charity organisations involved in the Bridge for Transcarpathia coalition, amounting to HUF 3 billion. The Coalition continues to receive donations by phone and by bank transfer, with the total amount raised now at HUF 792 million. This amount is received by the six charities through the National Humanitarian Coordination Council and can only be used to cover the costs of caring for refugees.

While taking in those who have fled is a high priority, Hungary has not forgotten that the sick and wounded in the war also have to be treated. This is why Hungary has also donated medical equipment and medicines to Ukraine as part of a coordinated EU assistance: We sent 120 ventilators to hospitals in Transcarpathia and other Ukrainian hospitals immediately before the outbreak of the war, and we have recently donated more than 200 ventilators, 250 patient monitors, 25 central monitors, 100 infusion pumps and blood bags.

The Hungarian government expects the refugee influx to intensify in the coming days and weeks, with the total number of refugees admitted by Hungary reaching 1 million very soon. Hungary, Hungarian society, and our charity organisations, authorities and volunteers are all ready and prepared to do a superhuman job in making sure that everyone is cared for, the Hungarian diplomacy ensured.

Hungary: EU Court allows funds freeze

Strasbourg 16.02.2022 The EU funds are tied to EU values — EU Court of Justice strengthens the rule of law
The long-awaited ruling of the top European Court, issued today, confirms the legitimacy of protecting the Union budget from negative effects resulting from breaches of the principles of the rule of law. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has always supported the mechanism to tie adherence to the rule of law with the disbursement of EU recovery funds.

Today’s decision of the Court in support of the conditionality tool has reaffirmed the European Union’s efforts to limit the erosion of democratic principles in the Member States. It is a strong signal that EU values such as the rule of law and solidarity are non-negotiable”, EESC president Christa Schweng said.
According to one of EESC’s most recent opinions, The rule of law and the recovery fund, (20 January 2022), systematic shortcomings in the rule of law undermine the implementation of EU-funded programmes, and the absence of a rapid and comprehensive EU response to this jeopardises the EU’s credibility. The EESC recommends that sanctions be applied swiftly when breaches of law present a risk to the Union’s financial interests.

Addressing backsliding on the rule of law by any Member State is important in order to preserve the legitimacy of the EU’s fundamental values”, president Schweng said.

The court case that challenged the conditionality mechanism was brought by Poland and Hungary. The two countries claimed inter alia the mechanism exceeded the powers of the EU.

Organised civil society regularly states its concerns at breaches of the rule of law and judicial independence and expresses its wish for the Member States to adhere to EU standards.

MEPs debate Hungary EU budget restrictions

Strasbourg 06.07.2021 The budget conditionality regulation does not require any additional clarification to be applied and rule of law breaches must be addressed without delay, say the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

“We are now one step closer to finally applying the Conditionality regulation against those breaking the Rule of Law in the member states. With the Parliament’s contribution to the guidelines, we offer the Commission the means and tools to act without hesitation. The regulation is ready to be used”, said the co-rapporteur Petri Sarvamaa (EPP, FI) after the vote.

In a resolution adopted by the Budget and Budgetary Control committees on Thursday with 53 votes 11 against and 2 abstentions, MEPs regret that the Commission has decided to abide by the non-binding December 2020 European Council conclusions and delay application of the budget conditionality regulation.

They stress that the guidelines cannot alter, expand or restrict the scope of the budget conditionality regulation and that, in order to add any value, they must clarify how the legislative provisions will be applied in practice, outlining the procedure, definitions and methodology.
They also call on the Commission to set out a “clear, precise and user-friendly system” for submitting complaints under the regulation.

MEPs call on the Commission to investigate swiftly any potential breaches of the principles of the rule of law “that affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget”, by pointing out that “the situation in some member states already warrants immediate action”. The Commission should report to Parliament on the first cases under investigation by October 2021 the latest, they add.

MEPs finally criticise the Commission for having missed the deadline set by Parliament to apply the regulation and adopt the guidelines by 1 June 2021. They welcome the 23 June letter by the President of Parliament saying that if the Commission does not act, the EP will take action in the Court of Justice.

“We have said from the beginning that the guidelines were not necessary, but the Commission put forward its proposal and asked the EP for its position. So here it is. Parliament is always ready to work with the Commission on the rule of law, and in turn we expect the European Commission not to deceive us. It must act swiftly and strongly”, said the co-rapporteur Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D, ES).

French European Affairs junior minister Clement Beaune said on Wednesday he expected a form of sanctions against Hungary over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law.

Beaune also said he was not in favour of kicking Hungary out of the European Union, reiterating earlier comments to this effect from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I am not in favour of Hungary being kicked out of the European Union”, he told RTL radio.

Hungary dabs HR Report “absurd”

Brussels 30.09.2020 Immediately after the Rule of Law presentation by the European Commission, the Hungarian government issued a communication, providing an assessment of the document, viewing it as highly subjective, and politically motivated tool serving other purposes than declared.

Commission’s Rule of Law Report is not only fallacious, but absurd. It cannot serve as a basis for any further discussion on rule of law in the European Union. The concept and methodology of the Commission’s Rule of Law Report are unfit for purpose, its sources are unbalanced and its content is unfounded.

The Commission’s Rule of Law Report makes no reference to objective benchmarks that apply equally to all Member States.

The choice of sources in the report is biased and non-transparent. It is unacceptable for the Commission’s Rule of Law Report to be written by organisations forming part of a centrally financed international network engaged in a coordinated political campaign against Hungary. The Hungarian chapter makes reference to twelve “civil society organisations”, eleven of which have in recent years received financial support from the Open Society Foundations linked to Mr. Soros.

Hungary is one of the few Member States where genuine pluralism prevails in the media, in ideological debates, and in the public sphere in general. Unlike the Western European media landscape, which is overwhelmingly dominated by leftist and liberal outlets, in Hungary the situation is more balanced, with conservative and Christian Democratic views also receiving meaningful coverage in the public sphere.

The Fundamental Law of Hungary and the country’s state structure are based on the rule of law. The protection of Hungary’s constitutional identity is the obligation of every organ of the state.

Objective and impartial analysis of all reliable information concerning the situation in Hungary can only lead to the conclusion that the fundamental values of the European Union are being respected, and that the rule of law is being observed”.

The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. Today’s report includes input from every Member State and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU. It shows that many Member States have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by Member States due to the coronavirus crisis. The report covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

Hungary official refused word by German press

Hungary State Secretary Zoltán Kovács’s response to Der Tagesspiegel – has been refused the publication of his response ot Der Tagesspiegel, and started to share it via social media:
“In an article published last week in German daily Der Tagesspiegel entitled “Why nationalism doesn’t help against the pandemic,” Judith Langowski and Jonas Bickelmann claim that instead of organizing an effective defense against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Orbán and his government are using the virus to achieve ideological goals.” (Image: illustration).

I asked for an opportunity to respond but was refused with the reply that “It will not be possible at this time, neither in the online, nor the print edition.” Langowski did also write that she would “gladly” talk to me the next time they cover the topic. How generous!”

“In an article published last week in German daily Der Tagesspiegel entitled “Why nationalism doesn’t help against the pandemic,” Judith Langowski and Jonas Bickelmann claim that instead of organizing an effective defense against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Orbán and his government are using the virus to achieve ideological goals.

I asked for an opportunity to respond but was refused with the reply that “It will not be possible at this time, neither in the online, nor the print edition.” Langowski did also write that she would “gladly” talk to me the next time they cover the topic. How generous!

In their most recent piece, the authors recall that in late March, the Hungarian Parliament passed a piece of legislation, the so-called “Coronavirus Protection Act,” that allowed the government to “issue decrees indefinitely”; and while this law had already been lifted by the end of June, Tagesspiegel notes that it could be reintroduced “very easily.”

But there’s really no need to get into the details; we all know what these critics are trying to say: Instead of saving human lives, PM Orbán’s government allegedly harnessed the pandemic for political gains. This is not just overly biased, but also completely wrong.

Here are the facts:

This past spring, numerous mainstream, liberal news outlets were sounding the alarm over the “erosion of [Hungarian] democracy” (The Independent) and claiming that PM Viktor Orbán would supposedly “rule by decree, alone and unchallenged” (The Guardian).

These fears, however, were proven to be groundless.

Contrary to what these biased sources would have had you believe, the Hungarian government never received “unlimited powers.” The special powers the government did receive could be exercised only to prevent, treat, eradicate and remedy the harmful effects of the coronavirus. Similarly, the extraordinary measures were never intended to last “indefinitely”; they were meant to expire with the threat or be lifted by the National Assembly. And this is exactly what happened at the end of May, when the government proposed to hand back the extraordinary powers it had received under the state of emergency, which had been put into effect solely to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, we know that the Coronavirus Protection Act has, in fact, served the country well. It enabled the government to take swift action, closing borders, enacting movement restrictions, and equipping our national healthcare system and healthcare providers with the equipment necessary to treat all those who required care — all of which served to slow down the spread of the disease. Thanks to this legislative package, with 39.04 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants by early June, Hungary ranked among the top performers in Europe in terms of managing the pandemic. As Prime Minister Orbán has recently said on several occasions: In managing the first wave of the epidemic, Hungary scored among the top 20-25 countries globally.

Yes, it may be true that the number of active coronavirus cases and, sadly, the number of deaths have been climbing during the last few weeks in Hungary, but this is not due to any “populist strategy.” In fact, in a national consultation survey that ended on August 31, we collected the views of more than 1.7 million Hungarians. Based on this vast data, the Hungarian government concluded that while the defense against the coronavirus is a top priority for our citizens, we must simultaneously keep the country functioning.

This is why, in the middle of the second wave, we cannot adopt the same, strict restrictions that proved so successful during the first wave of the crisis. But don’t worry, Hungary will be fine. We have a war plan in place for managing the second wave of the crisis and our healthcare system has been properly prepared. We have all the necessary equipment, hospital beds, ventilators and healthcare professionals we need.

In Prime Minister Orbán’s own words: “Together we will succeed in defeating the second wave of the pandemic”.

Hungary migration position unchanged

Since 2015, the stance of the Hungarian Government on migration has been clear and unchanged. We have presented this stance and our proposals on several occasions” writes Zoltan Kovacs, the Secretary of State for International Communication and Relations, International spokesman, Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister Victor Orban.

We believe that the European Union and its member states must cooperate in keeping the looming migration pressure outside our borders. To this end, we should form alliances with countries of origin, so that they are able to provide proper living standards and ensure that their people do not have to leave their homelands. Instead of importing the trouble to Europe, we must bring help to where it is needed.
We believe that Europe’s borders must be protected: External hot-spots will have to be established to process asylum claims; we must ensure that the external borders of the EU and the Schengen Area remain perfectly sealed along all sections.

“Our goal is to see EU member states support each other in achieving the tasks above. While Hungary does not support obligatory distribution, it does defend joint borders, and we expect to receive the same amount of support as other Schengen states protecting those external borders. We would like to remind everyone that since the 2015 migration crisis, the Hungarian Government has spent more than 1 billion euros on protecting the borders of Hungary and the European Union, without a single cent of contribution from Brussels”.

Orban: EU «salto mortale»

“…The world is changing. The changes are tectonic. The United States is no longer alone on the throne of the world, Eurasia is rebuilding with full throttle, the frames of our European Union are crackling, and now it hopes to save itself with a salto mortale. The ground is trembling under the feet of our eastern neighbour. The Balkans is also full of questions to be answered” said Prime Minister Viktor Obran, during the ceremony of unveiling of a new memorial in commemoration of the Trianon centennial.

“A new order is being born. In our world, in our lives as well, great changes are banging on our gates.”

“…The West raped the thousand-year-old borders and history of Central Europe. They forced us to live between indefensible borders, deprived us of our natural treasures, separated us from our resources, and made a death row out of our country. Central Europe was redrawn without moral concerns, just as the borders of Africa and the Middle East were redrawn. We will never forget that they did this” Orban continued.

“…We need to live with the self-confidence and attitude of a nation that knows it has given more to the world than it has received from it. Our performance entitles us to continue our history. And today we also need to know that we have had worse borders, yet we are here” the Prime Minister concluded.

Orban considers quitting EPP

“This cannot go on,” Prime Minister Orbán said in his regular Friday morning interview on the public Kossuth Rádió on January 17. If the European People’ Party doesn’t stand up for Hungary, then we will have to start a new, Christian-Democratic European movement.”

Besides the European Parliament vote yesterday, the Prime minister talked about Vicegrad Four – V4 relations with Austria, “prison deals” in Hungary and the Roma segregation case in Gyöngyöspata.

In a resolution adopted in the European Parliament Plenary with 446 votes to 178 and 41 abstentions, MEPs note that reports and statements by the Commission, the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe indicate that “the situation in both Poland and Hungary has deteriorated since the triggering of Article 7(1)”.

MEPs point out that the hearings organised by the Council under Article 7 of the Treaty are neither regular nor structured. They call on the Council to address concrete recommendations to the countries concerned, including deadlines, to ensure EU law is respected.
The failure by the Council to make effective use of Article 7 continues to undermine the integrity of common European values, mutual trust and the credibility of the European Union as a whole”, claims the EP.

The text also urges the Commission to use all tools at its disposal to prevent a serious breach of common values, such as expedited infringement procedures and applications for interim measures before the Court of Justice.

« Older Entries