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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid