News / Europe

Hungarian Media Law Overshadows Talks With European Commission

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, left, listens to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, during a meeting between the college of EU commissioners and the Hungarian government at the parliament building in Budapest, Friday,
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, left, listens to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, during a meeting between the college of EU commissioners and the Hungarian government at the parliament building in Budapest, Friday,
Stefan Bos

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban says his country is ready to adjust a controversial media law. Orban made the comments after talks with the European Commission in Budapest. Media legislation wasn't the only issue on the agenda. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso unveiled a plan to impose European Union-wide taxes on banks after Hungary was among the first to implement these levies.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso confirmed to reporters that he raised concerns over Hungary's recently introduced media law during talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Under the legislation a government-backed Media Council can fine broadcasters nearly $1 million and newspapers and websites over $100,000 if their news coverage is deemed unbalanced or immoral.

Barroso urged Hungary to adhere to European Union values. "The principle of the freedom of the press is a sacred principle of the European Union. And media pluralism is a fundamental principle of the way we see our societies in Europe. I have received assurances from the prime minister that the law is drawn up and will be implemented in full respect of European Union values on media freedom and relevant EU legislation," he said.

The controversy threatens to overshadow Hungary's EU presidency.

Speaking at the same packed news conference in Budapest, Prime Minister Orban said his country would adjust its media law if the European Commission finds the legislation does not comply with legislation in other EU member states.

But speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Orban also appeared defiant, saying Hungary would not necessarily accept all criticism regarding its democratic credentials. He said that during his discussions with President Barroso he managed to make it clear that “naturally Hungary can not accept a way of thinking that would articulate any doubts regarding  its democratic commitment. He says Hungary has only 20 years democracy while other countries have more than 200 years democracy. However, he says, this can not be a base for discrimination. He says Hungary is "a country that has shed a lot of blood for her freedom."

The media law wasn't the only controversy discussed during talks with the European Commission in Budapest. Barroso also spoke about a controversial crisis tax that foreign investors say unfairly targets multi-national companies. "As usual when we receive a complaint that raises concerns on potential distortion of competition with the internal market and we informed the Hungarian authorities about it and now we are awaiting their formal comments by the end of January," he said.

Barosso made clear that he isn't ready to make a judgment. He even said the Commission would take on Hungary's example by proposing an EU wide tax on banks and financial services to help Europe overcome the financial crisis.

The issue is expected to come up at high level talks during Hungary's presidency. Prime Minister Orban said his country will also supervise talks related to stabilizing the troubled euro currency and energy security.

Hungary also wants to use the European presidency to in Mr. Orban's words "revive the enthusiasm" about further expansion of the EU to neighboring countries, including Croatia and Serbia.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs