Rule of law in Hungary under scrutiny

The EU Parliament plans to examine the state of the rule of law in Hungary. The right-wing national Hungarian government is undermining democracy in the country, MEPs complain, and are calling for the implementation of Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union, which foresees among other things sanctions for grave violations of democratic values. Commentators fully approve of the move.

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Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Europe's ability to assert itself at stake

The EU Parliament has initiated a proccess that was long overdue, the Frankfurter Rundschau comments:

“There are still many hurdles to clear before punitive measures against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government are in place. The other member states will probably lack the courage to seek a major conflict. As in the past they'll prefer to have the dirty work done by the EU Commission, whose potential to influence developments is limited. For its part the European People's Party - to which Germany's CDU and CSU parties also belong -, hasn't been willing to exclude Orbán's Fidesz. Nevertheless it's good that the EU Parliament has at least made a start: Europe's ability to assert its will, its credibility and its dignity are at stake. That should be worth every effort.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Separate the wheat from the chaff

Even though the EU would never vote unanimously for sanctions against Hungary, the mere act of initiating proceedings could have a positive effect, Le Soir believes:

“It's to be hoped that the EU's leaders will recognise how dangerous the anti-democratic tendencies at work in the member states are for the entire Union. ... First of all because of the domino effect, but also because there can be no single market, no area of free movement and no collective war on terror if the EU's fundamental values aren't respected. ... The general feeling is that such a procedure is doomed to fail because there's no way the member states will reach a unanimous decision. However, we should see things from another perspective: how about a vote pursuant to Article 7 on whether Poland and Hungary respect democracy and the rule of law? That would show, country by country and leader by leader, who defends the democratic order and who doesn't.”