In December, the EU Commission unexpectedly released some of the funds it had been withholding from Hungary on grounds of deficiencies in the rule of law in the country. The European Parliament has now questioned that decision and is considering bringing a lawsuit before the European Court of Justice on the issue. A clear majority of MEPs from across the political spectrum believe Hungary is still not complying with the EU's rule of law standards.

Don't let violations of basic values go unpunished

Salzburger Nachrichten says the EU Parliament's initiative does not reflect well on the Commission:

“Freedom, democracy, the rule of law, human and minority rights: the EU's fundamental values, enshrined in its treaties, and their enforcement have been eroded in recent years. The governments in Budapest and Warsaw have crossed one red line after another with almost complete impunity. Apart from a few blocked billions, Brussels has done little to stop them. Consequently, Orbán has turned the veto into a tolerated means of gaining an advantage. The fact that Parliament has to vehemently insist on compliance with fundamental values does no credit to the Commission as the 'guardian of the treaties'.”

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An objective and legally justified move

Népszava comments:

“The EU Parliament has made a gesture directed not at Hungarian democracy but at its own voters by snarling more fiercely than usual at the Commission, whose permissiveness really knows no limits. ... The majority of MEPs are apparently of the opinion that the Commission has not acted as 'guardian of the EU treaties', as is its duty, but in a politicised fashion (as the Hungarian government accuses it of doing in other cases). On the other hand, the judicial reform that our government has supposedly implemented has failed the first practical test, the election of the independent National Judicial Council (OBT): the government's influence has prevailed, just as it did before the 'reform'.”

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Orbán needn't worry

Rzeczpospolita doesn't believe in a confrontation between the EU and Hungary:

“Orbán has lost an ally in [Poland's former prime minister] Morawiecki, but has gained one in Robert Fico, the populist prime minister of Slovakia. ... The position of other countries that have also been accused of violating the rule of law, such as Bulgaria and Malta, is also unclear. ... But the concerns about penalising Hungary by withdrawing its voting rights are not only based on the fear of being punished for one's own sins, but also on political calculations. ... Sanctions could be counterproductive and strengthen support for anti-system parties, which would certainly talk of Brussels attacking the democratic Hungarian government. And nobody wants that before the elections to the European Parliament in June.”

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