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NEWS ROUNDUP 16 Feb 2018

When will Europe have enough of its black sheep?

Ivett Korösi recommended by Ivett Korösi Nepszava, Hungary

The Hungarian “Stop Soros” draft bill, which targets NGOs helping refugees, is not in accordance with international human rights norms, warned the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights.

Hungary Smoke signals

Why this story matters:

The Fidesz-led government must have gotten used to the sound of alarm bells. Several politicians and experts have openly voiced concern about the illiberal democracy the Hungarian PM, Viktor Orban, has proudly been establishing. This time the warning comes from a high-ranking official in a leading European body.

The question seems to be: how much longer will the European community tolerate the behaviour of its black sheep, like Hungary and Poland?

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, briefed journalists about several reform plans on Wednesday.

One of the suggested changes would only make it possible to grant funds to members states only if they respect fundamental EU laws.

This could hurt certain countries. As the corruption scandal involving the Hungarian Prime Minister’s son-in-law has recently shown, EU funds can be an excellent source of personal enrichment.

Black sheep of the EU might not care a dime about democratic values, but they do care about the millions of euros that are at stake. How and if this will affect policy-making in Hungary remains to be seen.

illiberalism

Details from the story:

  • Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, said in an interview for Nepszava that he was very concerned about the “Stop Soros” draft bill and called upon the government to refrain from punishing NGOs.
  • “My duty is to ring the alarm bell if I see a problem. I hope my comments will translate into legal and political support for those who want to see change in Hungary”, the Commissioner said.
  • Muiznieks pointed out that he has seen patterns similar to what is happening in Hungary only in Russia and Azerbaijan.

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