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Independent Judiciary (Hungary)

Volume 541: debated on Tuesday 28 February 2012

4. What representations he has made to the Hungarian Government on state control of the judiciary in that country. (96690)

An independent judiciary is necessary for the preservation of democracy and fundamental freedoms. We have urged Hungary to consider the implications of its new laws and to continue working with the European Commission to ensure that those laws are consistent with EU norms.

I welcome that response from the Minister. There have been suggestions in the media over the past few days that progress is being made at the EU level. Will he spell out what that progress is? Will he give the House an assurance that this and the other outstanding issues with Hungary’s new constitution will be pursued vigorously by this Government?

On 17 January, the European Commission released its analysis of the incompatibility of specific elements of the new Hungarian constitution with EU treaty obligations. Letters of formal notice were sent to the Hungarian Government as the first stage of EU infringement proceedings.

Notwithstanding the EU’s concerns, is it not the case that the vast majority of Hungarians voted for Fidesz at the last election? We should remember that that party is led by a man who was at the forefront of the battle against the socialist dictatorship in Hungary, a country in which I have a great personal interest.

I certainly respect the will of the Hungarian electorate. However, we strongly urge the Hungarian authorities to consider the implications of the new laws for political balance and to work with the Commission to ensure that the laws are consistent with EU norms.