Constitutional situation in Hungary: extracts from the debate

Type: -   Reference: 93316   Duration: 00:05:01  Lieu: Strasbourg, France - European Parliament
End production: 17/04/2013   First transmission: 17/04/2013
MEPs debated this morning on the constitutional situation in Hungary. This follows the recent adoption of a set of controversial amendments to Hungary's Constitution by the Hungarian Parliament. The last amendment, the fourth one since the entry into force of the new Constitution in January 2012, was passed by the Hungarian Parliament on 11 March and affects areas such as the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, the independence of the judiciary, the recognition of religious groups and the legal status of homeless people. The civil liberties committee is examining the fundamental rights situation in Hungary, as requested by the plenary in February 2012. MEP Rui Tavares (Greens/EFA, PT), is drafting a resolution for the committee assessing the legislative changes in Hungary and their compatibility with fundamental rights and values enshrined in the European treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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TIME DESCRIPTION DURATION
00:00:00 TITLE : Constitutional situation in Hungary: extracts from the debate 00:00:05
00:00:05 EXTERIOR SHOT of the European Parliament, Strasbourg 00:00:05
00:00:10 SOUNDBITE (French) Frank ENGEL (EPP, LU) "There is a risk at the moment, given that we are targeting Hungary in this way, that the Hungarian and those who voted for Fides or not, that perhaps their opinion is that Europe is not on their side." 00:00:13
00:00:23 SOUNDBITE (French) Frank ENGEL (EPP, LU) "Legally speaking maybe there is a difference of opinion on some of these points and obviously the Commission is going to evaluate, there will be this confrontation of ideas. But there are too many specific interests that clash and come into confrontation then ultimately I think we risk the losing of support of too many Europeans to an objective that will no more be common and to values that will be only academic." 00:00:27
00:00:50 SOUNDBITE (German) Hannes SWOBODA (S&D, AT) "The Hungarian people is a people that loves freedom, it always has, it managed to stand up to Austria, to the soviet occupation, the communist regime, and one of the people who stood up for freedom was Viktor Orban at the beginning of his political carrier. I don't know why Viktor Orban has deviated from that track, I don't know when it happened, I don't know how these things have evolved, but the Hungarian Parliament of course has the right to take decisions concerning legislation, and the Constitution, that's fine. Having said that, in a country ruled by the rule of law, within the European Union, you can't have arbitrariness." 00:00:42
00:01:32 SOUNDBITE (German) Hannes SWOBODA (S&D, AT) "Now I know that many Hungarian citizens don't see this as the major problem, they have other problems, economic problems, social problems, which are major, but they will not be resolved simply by departing from the course of the rule of law, homelessness won't be resolved either if you take the decision to discriminate against homeless people and persecute them." 00:00:00
00:01:32 SOUNDBITE (German) Hannes SWOBODA (S&D, AT) "Now I know that many Hungarian citizens don't see this as the major problem, they have other problems, economic problems, social problems, which are major, but they will not be resolved simply by departing from the course of the rule of law, homelessness won't be resolved either if you take the decision to discriminate against homeless people and persecute them." 00:00:20
00:01:52 SOUNDBITE Marie-Christine VERGIAT (GUE/NGL, FR) "In some of the benches you hear that Hungary might be a victim of some sort of left-wing plot and they are accused of things that nobody else is ever accused of. But all of us who seat in the Civil Liberties Committee know better. We do all know that fundamental rights are infringed everywhere across the EU, and that this is increasing as it has been proved by the number of Member States that have been sentenced by the European Court of Human Rights. But Hungary is a special case. 00:00:32
00:02:24 SOUNDBITE (English) Guy VERHOFSTADT (ALDE, BE) "What is at stake is that the 4th amendment of this constitution is defining the family as a heterosexual couple, and discriminating other couples, is allowing the Parliament to vote on the state of each church and by doing that limiting the liberty of religion in the country, it's about restricting mobility rights of students, it's about reducing the power of the Constitutional Court - we didn't hear that from the Commission, that is the main problem for the moment, that the power of the Constitutional Court is limited by this 4th amendment, it's concerning the concentration of the power of the judiciary in the hands of the national judicial office which in fact against the rule of law, and is not allowed in none country of the European Union, it's about that, it's that what is at stake, and I want to hear something different from the Council and from the Commission than simply an overview of all the letters sent to Mister Orban and of the 2 infringement procedures and of the fact that Hungary is not complying with one of the decisions of the Court of Justice." 00:01:15
00:03:39 SOUNDBITE (English) Guy VERHOFSTADT (ALDE, BE) "We have article 7 of the Treaty which is very clear, I want to give you the quote of article 7 : When there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred in article 3. In my opinion I think there is already a breach, because Mrs Reding is saying that Hungary is not complying with a decision of the Court of Justice concerning the application of these principle and values. But okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, and it's still a risk of breech : but we can agree that there is a risk of breach." 00:00:43
00:04:22 SOUNDBITE (Hungarian) Bokros LAJOS (ECR, HU) "The Fides regime in a way has return to a conception of the Constitution which is really the home mark of the communist era, and that is the way in which they are exercising that power. Hungarian people unfortunately are left in a very difficult situation, we have therefore to refer to the European Union and to the Council of Europe; Fides said they are in line with they have applicated, but we disagree. We need freedom, and unless we have freedom we cannot move forward." (applause) 00:00:39
00:05:01 END 00:00:00
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