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EU policies can't be defended, says Hungary PM Orban

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Uploaded on Jan 5, 2012

Related news story: Verhofstadt calls for 'Haider' sanctions against Hungary http://www.euractiv.com/future-eu/ver... France has so far been the only EU country to raise concerns about the constitutional changes that took effect on 1 January. The other 26 nations and the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) -- to which Fidesz belongs -- maintain a 'deafening silence' on the issue.

Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), called for sanctions against Hungary like those used against Austria's rightist leader Jörg Haider in 2000 (see background). Under the Lisbon Treaty, the proposed sanctions could in fact be even tougher.

"The treaties foresee a procedure to deal with such situations," Verhofstad said. "Unfortunately, the time has come to apply it to protect democracy and fundamental rights in Hungary and in the EU today, and avoid setting a dangerous precedent as well as a bad example for aspirant countries wishing to join the Union."

In the Austrian case, the EU governments imposed sanctions under rules that allow them to act in case of risk of human rights violations, rather than their actual occurrence.
Serious human rights breaches by a member state can result in a suspension or loss of voting rights in the Council under Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Critics say the constitutional changes and other laws enacted under Orbán's 2-year-old government weaken the independence of the judiciary, news media and the central bank.

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