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Nov 09, 2017

A new LIBE hearing will take place later this year

The European Parliament has ruled that a review of the ‘article 7 procedure’ will take place, and might lead to the suspension of Hungary’s voting rights in the Council

A new Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) hearing will take place later this year, it has been announced.

The European Parliament has ruled that a review of the ‘article 7 procedure’ will take place, and might lead to the suspension of Hungary’s voting rights in the Council.

The hearing has been initiated by Green MEP Judith Sargentini, who will submit an updated report on Hungary within the coming weeks. 

During a hearing earlier this year, the Hungarian government defended its now popular migrant policy position at a LIBE hearing.

Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács said at the time that Hungary has already clarified with European institutions the majority of issues concerning basic rights that were addressed during the hearing.

Justice Minister László Trócsányi, representing the Hungarian government, told the hearing that Hungary welcomes the participation of civil society in resolving the challenges facing Europe but their role should be differentiated from the role of governments since the latter have the strongest legitimacy. The government is open to dialog and a number of issues have already been successfully concluded based on a constructive approach, he added.

Minister Trócsányi said that the majority of people addressing the LIBE hearing had been critical of Hungarian measures but the government’s migration policy was gradually being accepted and applied in Europe. Those who believe “everything is hunky-dory, that terrorism doesn’t exist and there’s no reason to be preoccupied by public security …” are deluding themselves, he said.

The minister said he was certain that there would be disputes between Hungary and the EU on a planned Hungarian bill on migrant detention. He said the planned law under which asylum-seekers would be banned from moving around freely on Hungarian soil until their cases are ruled on was necessary because the number of illegal entrants was not declining.

The minister said the EU’s current asylum regulations were prone to debate, arguing that they had been drafted back when “there weren’t nearly as many migrants arriving in the continent” as there are now.

Representatives of the Center for Fundamental Rights, Amnesty International, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee were also among participants at the hearing.

Government Spokesperson Zoltan Kovács said the state of constitutionality in Hungary was a topic on the agenda, adding, however, that substantive issues were announced only a few hours before the meeting commenced.

The hearing is “politically motivated” and the document to be discussed was drafted by “so-called civil organizations” that carry out political activities, he added.

These civil organizations are attempting to interfere in politics “without the authorization of the people”, which is why increased transparency is needed in the case of those trying to obtain a decisive political role, Kovács said. The role of civil organizations is also a matter of dispute in western Europe and the United States, he added.

Kovács said the hearing would be directed against the government’s migration policy, with civil organizations and politicians that “assist migration” arguing against the Hungarian government.

Over the past 18 months, the government has persistently stood by its position in connection with illegal migration. The move to set up a second line of defense has been necessary in order to reduce the number of illegal migrants to zero and “to make it impossible for them to come to Europe illegally,” he added.

Hungary has introduced stricter legal regulations because migrants had learnt how to circumvent Hungarian and European Union regulations, so these loopholes have had to be closed, Kovács said.

Other European countries have already introduced or plan to introduce several elements of the measures proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, so Hungary is a trailblazer, he said.

However, LIBE appears to include people who are still supportive of migration, Kovács said. The Hungarian government expects political conflicts in connection with the second line of defense and Hungary’s new regulations because certain NGOs promote a political agenda at odds with protecting Europe, he added.