Hungarian media law
No more double standards; swift action needed to ensure media freedom prevails in Hungary
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban today faced criticism from MEPs during a European Parliament debate over the controversial media law passed in Hungary last month. The Greens have led criticism of the law, which would restrict media pluralism, in conflict with EU law, and is part of wider democratic restrictions by the Hungarian government. The Greens/EFA group wants the European Commission not to delay action against Hungary if the government fails to withdraw the law. During the debate, Greens/EFA co-president Dany Cohn-Bendit said:
"This sorry saga has already dragged on far too long even though it is clear as day that this media law is in conflict with EU law and the basic rights of the Union. The Commission itself has effectively acknowledged as much. Freedom of information and a free media is the basis of democracy. The media should be a gadfly to all politicians in a democracy: there is no such thing as 'balanced information'. However, this law has, in reality, been conceived to restrict media freedom in Hungary. The only proper solution is to withdraw the whole law.
"If the Hungarian government fails to do so, the Commission must not dodge the bullet: it must conclude its assessment without delay and take appropriate action to ensure Hungary withdraws the law. Swift action will ensure the Hungarian presidency can get down to work on the priorities on the EU agenda."
Greens/EFA co-president Rebecca Harms added:
"The EU must stop employing double standards in defending fundamental rights. It is not acceptable that prior to EU membership, applicant countries are expected to guarantee democratic pluralism and media freedom, but, once they join, they can ignore these core EU values.
"The Hungarian media law infringes on various aspects of EU law and the provisions of the EU Treaty, as well as other European and international conventions. We cannot compromise on the guarantee of basic rights in the EU: either Hungary must scrap this ill-conceived law or the Commission needs to act without delay."