#Hungary: ‘Prime Minister Orbán to comply with EU laws and EPP values following meeting with EPP presidency’

Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán (pictured) was summoned to the presidency of the European People’s Party (EPP) this morning (29 April) to explain the latest developments related to the Hungarian Higher Education Act and the national consultation ‘Let’s stop Brussels’.

Orbán’s increasingly autocratic approach and anti-European views reached tipping point when a law that was hastily adopted to ‘amend’ Hungary’s higher education system was clearly targeted at one institution, the University of Central Europe (CEU). Fellow EPP parties were exasperated by this.

The EPP was meeting before the EU-27 summit on the Brexit guidelines. Nevertheless, recent events meant that Orban was the first item on the agenda.

The EPP’s tolerance of Orbán’s Fidesz party is particularly difficult for the Polish Civic Platform party, which is also an EPP member. Civic Platform is standing against a similar approach to fundamental rights and Europe adopted by the ruling Polish Law and Justice Party (ECR Group), which is taking similar action on media plurality and independence, NGOs and the judicial system.

EPP President Joseph Daul made a strong statement insisting on Fidesz’s compliance with EU rules. EPP will no longer accept that with Fidesz “any basic freedoms are restricted or rule of law is disregarded” including academic freedom.

Daul stated: “The EPP wants the CEU to remain open, deadlines suspended and dialogue with the US to begin.

“The EPP believes that NGOs are an integral part of any healthy democracy, that they represent the civil society and that they must be respected.

“The EPP has also made it clear to our Hungarian partners that the blatant anti-EU rhetoric of the ‘Let’s stop Brussels’ consultation is unacceptable. The constant attacks on Europe, which Fidesz has launched for years, have reached a level we cannot tolerate.”

Following the meeting, Daul added: “The EPP has always used dialogue as the best way to communicate with its members and to overcome differences. Throughout these past weeks, EPP has maintained open lines of communication with the leadership of Fidesz, but has also relied on the Commission to ensure that member states comply with EU treaties. Following the Commission’s assessment and the outcome of the EPP’s exchange with the Hungarian civic society and representatives of the academic community, we have come to the conclusion that dialogue alone is not enough.”

After an open and frank conversation with Prime Minister Orbán during the EPP presidency meeting this morning, EPP asked Fidesz and the Hungarian authorities to take all necessary steps to comply with the Commission’s request. Prime Minister Orban has reassured the EPP that Hungary will act accordingly.

The EPP presidency sent a clear message to Prime Minister Orbán and his party, Fidesz, that we will not accept that any basic freedoms are restricted or rule of law is disregarded. This includes academic freedom and the autonomy of universities. The EPP wants the CEU to remain open, deadlines suspended and dialogue with the US to begin.

The EPP believes that NGOs are an integral part of any healthy democracy, that they represent civil society and that they must be respected.

The EPP has also made it clear to our Hungarian partners that the blatant anti-EU rhetoric of the ‘Let’s stop Brussels’ consultation is unacceptable. “The constant attacks on Europe, which Fidesz has launched for years, have reached a level we cannot tolerate. This consultation has been deeply misleading. The European Union was founded by visionary representatives of the EPP, and our convictions are deeply pro-European. We do not have to remind Viktor Orbán, of all people, that decisions in Brussels are taken collectively by European governments, including his Hungarian government, and by the European Parliament, which includes representatives of the Hungarian people.”

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Category: A Frontpage, EU, European Parliament, Hungary, Politics

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