News / Europe

Hungary Promises Changes After EU Threat in Amendment Row

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends stone laying ceremony for a new division of Knorr-Bremse factory in Kecskemet, April 11, 2013.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends stone laying ceremony for a new division of Knorr-Bremse factory in Kecskemet, April 11, 2013.
Reuters
Hungary promised on Friday to make changes after the EU executive threatened action to overturn constitutional amendments it said may be incompatible with European Union law.
 
The EU, the United States and human rights organizations have accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government of using constitutional amendments to limit the powers of Hungary's top court and undermine democracy in the former Soviet satellite.
 
In a letter to Orban, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that, based on an initial analysis, the Commission had serious concerns about the compatibility of the constitutional changes with EU legislation and the rule of law.
 
Once it has completed its legal analysis, the Commission "will have to take the necessary steps in order to start infringement procedures where relevant," Barroso told Orban.
 
He appealed to the prime minister, the leader of the nationalist Fidesz party, to "address these concerns and to tackle them in a determined and unambiguous way."
 
"This is without doubt in the best interest of Hungary and of the EU as a whole," Barroso wrote.
 
Orban assured Barroso in a reply that Hungary was committed to European norms and pledged full cooperation with Brussels to address its concerns.
 
"I certainly pay full attention to the points you raised and I should like to inform you that I have already initiated the necessary legislative steps to follow them up," he said in the letter published on his orbanviktor.hu website.
 
Orban earlier dismissed criticism that the constitutional changes are anti-democratic and last month challenged EU legal experts to present evidence if they had any problems.
 
Barroso's letter said the Commission was particularly concerned about the legality of constitutional changes relating to European Court of Justice judgments entailing payment obligations.
 
It also raised concerns about powers given to the president of the national office for the judiciary to transfer cases, and restrictions on the publication of political advertisements.
 
The forint currency eased slightly after news of Barroso's letter to trade at 295.45 against the euro at 1348 GMT, but stayed near six-week highs hit earlier in the day at 294 as foreign investors encouraged by Japan's monetary stimulus continue to buy high-yielding assets in emerging markets.
 
Orban, a 49-year-old conservative who made his name as a young dissident when Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain, has overseen a rewrite of the constitution and four revisions.
 
He has imposed swingeing "crisis taxes" on some foreign firms and forced banks to write off some of the foreign currency debt owned by Hungarian households.
 
His opponents accuse him of harming Hungarian democracy and gambling with economic stability. The EU says he has eroded the independence of the courts, the media, the central bank and other institutions, pulling Hungary out of Europe's mainstream.
 
A deputy governor in Hungary's central bank resigned on Monday in protest at what she said was a campaign by Orban appointees to reduce the bank to a rubber-stamp for risky economic policies.
 
Orban says he has saved Hungary from a Greek-style economic collapse, his reforms are democratic because he won a huge majority in a 2010 election, and he is under attack because he threatens the interests of foreign business lobbies.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid