Should Hungary remain in the EU?

After the Hungarian parliament passed the "anti-paedophilia law", the debate over whether the rule of law in Hungary is compatible with its EU membership has gained new momentum. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the law a disgrace, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on Hungary to leave the bloc if its government can't respect LGBT rights. Europe's press also discusses whether tougher steps should now be taken.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Each country must be allowed to define its own values

The EU should stay out of Budapest's affairs, Le Figaro argues:

“Does Hungary not have the right to do as it pleases? Who else but Hungary can decide what its young people are to be taught? ... The premature recourse to Article 2 of the EU Treaty and to 'European values' is reviving a pointless cultural cold war. ... For the sake of Europe's future, Brussels must stop turning into a club of progressives that demands ever more integration from its nations. Yesterday it was economic and institutional integration. Now it's also social, cultural - and therefore educational - integration. All in the name of 'values' whose content is determined by NGOs instead of elected governments.”

hvg (HU) /

Deliberate provocation

Orbán is successfully using the law to intensify anti-European sentiment in Hungary, businessman Gábor Bojár laments in hvg:

“I don't believe that Fidesz is unaware of modern Western values, which consider the equality of all minorities, including sexual minorities, to be sacred. Nor do I believe that the party did not expect the fierce reactions from the West. I think it even deliberately provoked them. ... Unfortunately, people in the West would prefer to see Orbán-led Hungary outside the EU and Nato for a long time. ... They don't even care that by reacting harshly they might even be supporting Orbán's anti-EU propaganda.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

This has nothing to do with religion

The argument put forward by many supporters of the Hungarian law that homosexuality is not compatible with Christian values is false and dangerous, writes Borislav Zumbulev, editor-in-chief of 24 Chasa:

“The attempt to drag a political struggle between people who are fighting for their freedom and others who want to restrict it into the religious sphere is cynical and dangerous. I am a Christian, I would even say an orthodox fundamentalist, yet I am still against the anti-homosexual laws in Hungary. After all, this is about civil rights and not religion. ... Hate is anything but a Christian feeling.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Cut off the funding

The Irish Times demands that Brussels should finally hit the Hungarian premier where it really hurts him and his government:

“With Hungary's hateful anti-LGBTI+ law, however, a red line has been crossed. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is reported to have asked Orban why he wanted to remain part of the EU and suggested that Hungary leave the union entirely. Orban stands against almost everything the EU stands for, but he has no incentive to leave; on the contrary, the flow of EU cash helps keep Orban in power. It's beyond time that such funding be withheld.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Kicking Hungary out would be madness

Europe must stand up for its citizens in Hungary, demands Der Standard:

“Viktor Orbán, who started out as a liberal politician when he was a young man, ... has lost face. He has failed to grasp what the community of rights and values that is the EU is all about. He is anti-European. Nevertheless, it would be a big mistake to lose our heads now and even suggest that Hungary should leave the EU, as Rutte did in anger. On the contrary, Orbán is not Hungary. The EU and its states must fight all the harder for the Hungarians, for the citizens there. ... It's up to the Hungarians themselves to bring Orbán down - preferably in the next elections, when they realise how their leader has led them down the wrong path.”

La Stampa (IT) /

EU rifts increasingly obvious

The dispute over rule of law criteria is increasingly putting the EU's credibility to the test, fears La Stampa:

“The lengthy and political deferral of any decision that would be necessary to save the EU as an area of shared values seems to have brought it to the brink of the abyss. The Hungarian question is becoming inescapable, not only because of its gravity, but also because it marks different levels of fracture within the bloc. The exceedingly harsh words of the Commission President have found little resonance in the European Council, where the heads of government of the member states meet. Only 17 out of 27 states have taken a similar stance. ... The antagonism between the EU's highest institutions became obvious late last year when the European Council humiliated the Parliament by diluting its text to the point where it was rendered meaningless.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Time to file a complaint in Strasbourg

Discussions and measures within the framework of EU processes are no longer enough, writes a collective of academics in Le Soir:

“The measures [taken by Budapest] must be seen in the broader context of the deliberate erosion of liberal democracy in Hungary. ... The European Union's instruments for combating this are limited. So why don't we turn to Europe in the wider sense, to the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights? It's time to file a complaint in Strasbourg, 'Belgium and 16 other member states vs. Hungary', to denounce the discrimination and attacks on the freedom of expression of which the Hungarian institutions are guilty and which violate the European public order.”