Hungary internet tax cancelled after mass protests
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:28
31 October 2014Last updated at 08:57 ET Hungary has decided to shelve a proposed tax on internet data traffic after mass protests against the plan.
"This tax in its current form cannot be introduced," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.
Large-scale protests began on Sunday, when demonstrators hurled old computer parts at the headquarters of Mr Orban's ruling Fidesz party.
The draft law - condemned by the EU - would levy a fee on each gigabyte of internet data transferred.
The protesters objected to the financial burden but also feared the move would restrict free expression and access to information.
The levy was set at 150 forints (£0.40; 0.50 euros; $0.60) per gigabyte of data traffic.
After thousands protested the government decided to cap the tax at 700 forints per month for individuals and 5,000 forints for companies. But that did not placate the crowds.
The BBC's Nick Thorpe in Budapest writes:
Viktor Orban does not often back down, but he has done so on this occasion for several reasons.
He saw how unpopular the tax was. He managed with one stroke to do something which opposition leaders had tried and failed to do for five years: unify his opponents He took on the best-organised community in the country - internet users - and lost The government's communication methods failed again - as they have with almost every major decision since Fidesz came to power "We are not Communists. We don't go against the will of the people," he said - a sign that growing comparisons between Fidesz and the old Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party are hitting the mark. What happens next? Mr Orban's decision to cancel the tax deprives his opponents of a valuable rallying cry. The big question for them will be whether they can use the momentum of two big rallies to create new forms of opposition to Fidesz.
They have proven that he can be defeated. Mr Orban has proven that he is more flexible than many analysts give him credit for.
'It should not be done'Fidesz had said the special tax was needed to balance Hungary's budget in 2015.
Speaking on Kossuth public radio, Mr Orban said that "if the people not only dislike something but also consider it unreasonable then it should not be done...
"The tax code should be modified. This must be withdrawn, and we do not have to deal with this now."
He said a measure seen by the government as a technical issue had become "a fear-inducing vision".
There will be a national consultation on it in January, he said.
A European Commission spokesman, Ryan Heath, said the tax was "bad in principle" because it was a unilateral measure applied to a global phenomenon.
He said it was "part of a pattern... of actions that have limited freedoms or sought to take rents without achieving wider economic or social interest" in Hungary.
The Commission has previously criticised Mr Orban's government for constitutional proposals seen to be cementing the Fidesz party's political dominance.
Around 100,000 Hungarians rally for democracy as internet tax hits nerve | Reuters
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:11
By Marton Dunai
BUDAPESTWed Oct 29, 2014 10:13pm IST
Tens of thousands of Hungarians march across the Elisabeth Bridge during a protest against new tax on Internet data transfers in centre of Budapest, October 28, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Laszlo Balogh
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - About 100,000 Hungarians rallied on Tuesday night to protest at a planned tax on data traffic and the broader course of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government they saw as undermining democracy and relations with European Union peers.
It was by far the largest protest since his centre-right government took power in 2010 and pursued moves to redefine many walks of life, drawing accusations of creeping authoritarianism, although it was re-elected by a landslide this year.
Orban's government has imposed special taxes on the banking, retail, energy and telecommunications sectors to keep the budget deficit in check, jeopardising profits in some parts of the economy and unnerving international investors.
The Internet data levy idea was first floated in the 2015 tax code submitted to the Central European country's parliament last week, triggering objections from Internet service providers and users who felt it was anti-democratic.
The crowd, which was organised by a Facebook-based social network and appeared to draw mostly well-heeled professionals, marched through central Budapest demanding the repeal of the planned tax and the ouster of Orban.
Many protesters held up makeshift signs that read "ERROR!" and "How many times do you want to skin us?"
Zsolt Varady, an internet entrepreneur and founder of a now-defunct Hungarian social network iwiw.hu, told the crowd that the tax threatened to undermine Internet freedoms.
"Between 2002 and 2006 iwiw motivated many people to get an internet subscription," Varady said. "People were willing to pay for the service because they knew, saw and felt that their lives were becoming better... The Internet tax threatens the further growth of the Internet as well as freedom of information."
TAX REDUCED AFTER FIRST PROTEST
The government had planned to tax internet data transfers at a rate of 150 forints per gigabyte. After analysts calculated this would total more than the sector's annual revenue and an initial protest drew thousands on Sunday, Fidesz submitted a bill that capped the tax at 700 forints per month for individuals and 5,000 forints for companies.
That did not placate Tuesday's protesters.
"I am a student, my parents are not well off, neither am I, so I work hard," said Ildiko Pirk, a 22-year-old studying nursing. "I doubt the internet companies won't build this tax into their prices. And I have a computer, a smartphone, as does my mother and my four siblings... That adds up."
She said the internet was vital for her to get the books she needs for her studies but also to read unbiased news that is not under the control of Hungary's ruling political elite.
She and other protesters said the government's other moves also bothered them, such as a perceived mismanagement of the economy and a recent dispute with the United States over alleged corruption of Hungarian public officials.
The Orban government denied any anti-democratic agenda, saying it aimed only to get all economic sectors to share the tax burden and was tapping into a trend of telecommunications shifting away from already-taxed telephony and text messages.
The European Commission also criticised the proposed tax.
"It's part of a pattern... of actions which have limited freedoms or sought to take rents without achieving a wider economic or social interest," said Ryan Heath, spokesman for outgoing Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes.
Heath said the tax was economically misguided because it was based on data traffic now growing rapidly around the world.
(1 US dollar = 242.0100 Hungarian forint)
(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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The Visegrad Group: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia | About the Visegrad Group
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:01
The Visegrad Group (also known as the "Visegrad Four" or simply "V4") reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in a number of fields of common interest within the all-European integration. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have always been part of a single civilization sharing cultural and intellectual values and common roots in diverse religious traditions, which they wish to preserve and further strengthen.All the V4 countries aspired to become members of the European Union, perceiving their integration in the EU as another step forward in the process of overcoming artificial dividing lines in Europe through mutual support. They reached this aim in 2004 (1st May) when they all became members of the EU.
The V4 was not created as an alternative to the all-European integration efforts, nor does it try to compete with the existing functional Central European structures. Its activities are in no way aimed at isolation or the weakening of ties with the other countries. On the contrary the Group aims at encouraging optimum cooperation with all countries, in particular its neighbours, its ultimate interest being the democratic development in all parts of Europe.
The Visegrad Group wishes to contribute towards building the European security architecture based on effective, functionally complementary and mutually reinforcing cooperation and coordination within existing European and transatlantic institutions.
In order to preserve and promote cultural cohesion, cooperation within the Visegrad Group will enhance the imparting of values in the field of culture, education, science and exchange of information.
All the activities of the Visegrad Group are aimed at strengthening stability in the Central European region. The participating countries perceive their cooperation as a challenge and its success as the best proof of their ability to integrate also into such structures, such as the European Union.
HUNGARY-TEU - EU-wiki ARTICLE 2
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:57
CONSOLIDATED VERSION OF THE TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION
See also TFEU
HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF THE BELGIANS, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF DENMARK, THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY, THE PRESIDENT OF IRELAND, THE PRESIDENT OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC, HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF SPAIN, THE PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC, HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUKE OF LUXEMBOURG, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF THE NETHERLANDS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND,
RESOLVED to mark a new stage in the process of European integration undertaken with the establishment of the European Communities,
DRAWING INSPIRATION from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law,
RECALLING the historic importance of the ending of the division of the European continent and the need to create firm bases for the construction of the future Europe,
CONFIRMING their attachment to the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and of the rule of law,
CONFIRMING their attachment to fundamental social rights as defined in the European Social Charter signed at Turin on 18 October 1961 and in the 1989 Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers,
DESIRING to deepen the solidarity between their peoples while respecting their history, their culture and their traditions,
DESIRING to enhance further the democratic and efficient functioning of the institutions so as to enable them better to carry out, within a single institutional framework, the tasks entrusted to them,
RESOLVED to achieve the strengthening and the convergence of their economies and to establish an economic and monetary union including, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a single and stable currency,
DETERMINED to promote economic and social progress for their peoples, taking into account the principle of sustainable development and within the context of the accomplishment of the internal market and of reinforced cohesion and environmental protection, and to implement policies ensuring that advances in economic integration are accompanied by parallel progress in other fields,
RESOLVED to establish a citizenship common to nationals of their countries,
RESOLVED to implement a common foreign and security policy including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, which might lead to a common defence in accordance with the provisions of Article 42, thereby reinforcing the European identity and its independence in order to promote peace, security and progress in Europe and in the world,
RESOLVED to facilitate the free movement of persons, while ensuring the safety and security of their peoples, by establishing an area of freedom, security and justice, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,
RESOLVED to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity,
IN VIEW of further steps to be taken in order to advance European integration,
HAVE DECIDED to establish a European Union and to this end have designated as their Plenipotentiaries:
(List of plenipotentiaries not reproduced)
WHO, having exchanged their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed as follows:
By this Treaty, the HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES establish among themselves a EUROPEAN UNION, hereinafter called "the Union" on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in common.
This Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen.
The Union shall be founded on the present Treaty and on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as "the Treaties"). Those two Treaties shall have the same legal value. The Union shall replace and succeed the European Community.
The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.
(ex Article 2 TEU)
1.The Union's aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples.
2.The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.
3.The Union shall establish an internal market. It shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance.
It shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.
It shall promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States.
It shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced.
4.The Union shall establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro.
5.In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests and contribute to the protection of its citizens. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter.
6.The Union shall pursue its objectives by appropriate means commensurate with the competences which are conferred upon it in the Treaties.
1.In accordance with Article 5, competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States.
2.The Union shall respect the equality of Member States before the Treaties as well as their national identities, inherent in their fundamental structures, political and constitutional, inclusive of regional and local self-government. It shall respect their essential State functions, including ensuring the territorial integrity of the State, maintaining law and order and safeguarding national security. In particular, national security remains the sole responsibility of each Member State.
3.Pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation, the Union and the Member States shall, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties.
The Member States shall take any appropriate measure, general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising out of the Treaties or resulting from the acts of the institutions of the Union.
The Member States shall facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives.
(ex Article 5 TEC)
1.The limits of Union competences are governed by the principle of conferral. The use of Union competences is governed by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.
2.Under the principle of conferral, the Union shall act only within the limits of the competences conferred upon it by the Member States in the Treaties to attain the objectives set out therein. Competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States.
3.Under the principle of subsidiarity, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Union shall act only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level.
The institutions of the Union shall apply the principle of subsidiarity as laid down in the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. National Parliaments ensure compliance with the principle of subsidiarity in accordance with the procedure set out in that Protocol.
4.Under the principle of proportionality, the content and form of Union action shall not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaties.
The institutions of the Union shall apply the principle of proportionality as laid down in the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.
(ex Article 6 TEU)
1.The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.
The provisions of the Charter shall not extend in any way the competences of the Union as defined in the Treaties.
The rights, freedoms and principles in the Charter shall be interpreted in accordance with the general provisions in Title VII of the Charter governing its interpretation and application and with due regard to the explanations referred to in the Charter, that set out the sources of those provisions.
2.The Union shall accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Such accession shall not affect the Union's competences as defined in the Treaties.
3.Fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, shall constitute general principles of the Union's law.
(ex Article 7 TEU)
1.On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure.
The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply.
2.The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2, after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.
3.Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.
The obligations of the Member State in question under this Treaty shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.
4.The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures taken under paragraph 3 in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed.
5.The voting arrangements applying to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council for the purposes of this Article are laid down in Article 354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
1.The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.
2.For the purposes of paragraph 1, the Union may conclude specific agreements with the countries concerned. These agreements may contain reciprocal rights and obligations as well as the possibility of undertaking activities jointly. Their implementation shall be the subject of periodic consultation.
In all its activities, the Union shall observe the principle of the equality of its citizens, who shall receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Every national of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to national citizenship and shall not replace it.
1.The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy.
2.Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament.
Member States are represented in the European Council by their Heads of State or Government and in the Council by their governments, themselves democratically accountable either to their national Parliaments, or to their citizens.
3.Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union. Decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen.
4.Political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union.
1.The institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views in all areas of Union action.
2.The institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society.
3.The European Commission shall carry out broad consultations with parties concerned in order to ensure that the Union's actions are coherent and transparent.
4.Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties.
The procedures and conditions required for such a citizens' initiative shall be determined in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 24 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
National Parliaments contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union:
(a)through being informed by the institutions of the Union and having draft legislative acts of the Union forwarded to them in accordance with the Protocol on the role of national Parliaments in the European Union;
(b)by seeing to it that the principle of subsidiarity is respected in accordance with the procedures provided for in the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;
(c)by taking part, within the framework of the area of freedom, security and justice, in the evaluation mechanisms for the implementation of the Union policies in that area, in accordance with Article 70 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and through being involved in the political monitoring of Europol and the evaluation of Eurojust's activities in accordance with Articles 88 and 85 of that Treaty;
(d)by taking part in the revision procedures of the Treaties, in accordance with Article 48 of this Treaty;
(e)by being notified of applications for accession to the Union, in accordance with Article 49 of this Treaty;
(f)by taking part in the inter'parliamentary cooperation between national Parliaments and with the European Parliament, in accordance with the Protocol on the role of national Parliaments in the European Union.
1.The Union shall have an institutional framework which shall aim to promote its values, advance its objectives, serve its interests, those of its citizens and those of the Member States, and ensure the consistency, effectiveness and continuity of its policies and actions.
The Union's institutions shall be:
the European Commission (hereinafter referred to as "the Commission"),the Court of Justice of the European Union,the European Central Bank,2.Each institution shall act within the limits of the powers conferred on it in the Treaties, and in conformity with the procedures, conditions and objectives set out in them. The institutions shall practice mutual sincere cooperation.
3.The provisions relating to the European Central Bank and the Court of Auditors and detailed provisions on the other institutions are set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
4.The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission shall be assisted by an Economic and Social Committee and a Committee of the Regions acting in an advisory capacity.
1.The European Parliament shall, jointly with the Council, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall exercise functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties. It shall elect the President of the Commission.
2.The European Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the Union's citizens. They shall not exceed seven hundred and fifty in number, plus the President. Representation of citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of six members per Member State. No Member State shall be allocated more than ninety-six seats.
The European Council shall adopt by unanimity, on the initiative of the European Parliament and with its consent, a decision establishing the composition of the European Parliament, respecting the principles referred to in the first subparagraph.
3.The members of the European Parliament shall be elected for a term of five years by direct universal suffrage in a free and secret ballot.
4.The European Parliament shall elect its President and its officers from among its members.
1.The European Council shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and shall define the general political directions and priorities thereof. It shall not exercise legislative functions.
2.The European Council shall consist of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall take part in its work.
3.The European Council shall meet twice every six months, convened by its President. When the agenda so requires, the members of the European Council may decide each to be assisted by a minister and, in the case of the President of the Commission, by a member of the Commission. When the situation so requires, the President shall convene a special meeting of the European Council.
4.Except where the Treaties provide otherwise, decisions of the European Council shall be taken by consensus.
5.The European Council shall elect its President, by a qualified majority, for a term of two and a half years, renewable once. In the event of an impediment or serious misconduct, the European Council can end the President's term of office in accordance with the same procedure.
6.The President of the European Council:
(a)shall chair it and drive forward its work;
(b)shall ensure the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council in cooperation with the President of the Commission, and on the basis of the work of the General Affairs Council;
(c)shall endeavour to facilitate cohesion and consensus within the European Council;
(d)shall present a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council.
The President of the European Council shall, at his level and in that capacity, ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The President of the European Council shall not hold a national office.
1.The Council shall, jointly with the European Parliament, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall carry out policy-making and coordinating functions as laid down in the Treaties.
2.The Council shall consist of a representative of each Member State at ministerial level, who may commit the government of the Member State in question and cast its vote.
3.The Council shall act by a qualified majority except where the Treaties provide otherwise.
4.As from 1 November 2014, a qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55 % of the members of the Council, comprising at least fifteen of them and representing Member States comprising at least 65 % of the population of the Union.
A blocking minority must include at least four Council members, failing which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained.
The other arrangements governing the qualified majority are laid down in Article 238(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5.The transitional provisions relating to the definition of the qualified majority which shall be applicable until 31 October 2014 and those which shall be applicable from 1 November 2014 to 31 March 2017 are laid down in the Protocol on transitional provisions.
6.The Council shall meet in different configurations, the list of which shall be adopted in accordance with Article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The General Affairs Council shall ensure consistency in the work of the different Council configurations. It shall prepare and ensure the follow-up to meetings of the European Council, in liaison with the President of the European Council and the Commission.
The Foreign Affairs Council shall elaborate the Union's external action on the basis of strategic guidelines laid down by the European Council and ensure that the Union's action is consistent.
7.A Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States shall be responsible for preparing the work of the Council.
8.The Council shall meet in public when it deliberates and votes on a draft legislative act. To this end, each Council meeting shall be divided into two parts, dealing respectively with deliberations on Union legislative acts and non-legislative activities.
9.The Presidency of Council configurations, other than that of Foreign Affairs, shall be held by Member State representatives in the Council on the basis of equal rotation, in accordance with the conditions established in accordance with Article 236 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
1.The Commission shall promote the general interest of the Union and take appropriate initiatives to that end. It shall ensure the application of the Treaties, and of measures adopted by the institutions pursuant to them. It shall oversee the application of Union law under the control of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It shall execute the budget and manage programmes. It shall exercise coordinating, executive and management functions, as laid down in the Treaties. With the exception of the common foreign and security policy, and other cases provided for in the Treaties, it shall ensure the Union's external representation. It shall initiate the Union's annual and multiannual programming with a view to achieving interinstitutional agreements.
2.Union legislative acts may only be adopted on the basis of a Commission proposal, except where the Treaties provide otherwise. Other acts shall be adopted on the basis of a Commission proposal where the Treaties so provide.
3.The Commission's term of office shall be five years.
The members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt.
In carrying out its responsibilities, the Commission shall be completely independent. Without prejudice to Article 18(2), the members of the Commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any Government or other institution, body, office or entity. They shall refrain from any action incompatible with their duties or the performance of their tasks.
4.The Commission appointed between the date of entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and 31 October 2014, shall consist of one national of each Member State, including its President and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who shall be one of its Vice-Presidents.
5.As from 1 November 2014, the Commission shall consist of a number of members, including its President and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, corresponding to two thirds of the number of Member States, unless the European Council, acting unanimously, decides to alter this number.
The members of the Commission shall be chosen from among the nationals of the Member States on the basis of a system of strictly equal rotation between the Member States, reflecting the demographic and geographical range of all the Member States. This system shall be established unanimously by the European Council in accordance with Article 244 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
6.The President of the Commission shall:
(a)lay down guidelines within which the Commission is to work;
(b)decide on the internal organisation of the Commission, ensuring that it acts consistently, efficiently and as a collegiate body;
(c)appoint Vice-Presidents, other than the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, from among the members of the Commission.
A member of the Commission shall resign if the President so requests. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall resign, in accordance with the procedure set out in Article 18(1), if the President so requests.
7.Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission. This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. If he does not obtain the required majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall within one month propose a new candidate who shall be elected by the European Parliament following the same procedure.
The Council, by common accord with the President-elect, shall adopt the list of the other persons whom it proposes for appointment as members of the Commission. They shall be selected, on the basis of the suggestions made by Member States, in accordance with the criteria set out in paragraph 3, second subparagraph, and paragraph 5, second subparagraph.
The President, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the other members of the Commission shall be subject as a body to a vote of consent by the European Parliament. On the basis of this consent the Commission shall be appointed by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority.
8.The Commission, as a body, shall be responsible to the European Parliament. In accordance with Article 234 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Parliament may vote on a motion of censure of the Commission. If such a motion is carried, the members of the Commission shall resign as a body and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall resign from the duties that he carries out in the Commission.
1.The European Council, acting by a qualified majority, with the agreement of the President of the Commission, shall appoint the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The European Council may end his term of office by the same procedure.
2.The High Representative shall conduct the Union's common foreign and security policy. He shall contribute by his proposals to the development of that policy, which he shall carry out as mandated by the Council. The same shall apply to the common security and defence policy.
3.The High Representative shall preside over the Foreign Affairs Council.
4.The High Representative shall be one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission. He shall ensure the consistency of the Union's external action. He shall be responsible within the Commission for responsibilities incumbent on it in external relations and for coordinating other aspects of the Union's external action. In exercising these responsibilities within the Commission, and only for these responsibilities, the High Representative shall be bound by Commission procedures to the extent that this is consistent with paragraphs 2 and 3.
1.The Court of Justice of the European Union shall include the Court of Justice, the General Court and specialised courts. It shall ensure that in the interpretation and application of the Treaties the law is observed.
Member States shall provide remedies sufficient to ensure effective legal protection in the fields covered by Union law.
2.The Court of Justice shall consist of one judge from each Member State. It shall be assisted by Advocates-General.
The General Court shall include at least one judge per Member State.
The Judges and the Advocates-General of the Court of Justice and the Judges of the General Court shall be chosen from persons whose independence is beyond doubt and who satisfy the conditions set out in Articles 253 and 254 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. They shall be appointed by common accord of the governments of the Member States for six years. Retiring Judges and Advocates-General may be reappointed.
3.The Court of Justice of the European Union shall, in accordance with the Treaties:
(a)rule on actions brought by a Member State, an institution or a natural or legal person;
(b)give preliminary rulings, at the request of courts or tribunals of the Member States, on the interpretation of Union law or the validity of acts adopted by the institutions;
(c)rule in other cases provided for in the Treaties.
(ex Articles 27a to 27e, 40 to 40b and 43 to 45 TEU
and ex Articles 11 and 11a TEC)
1.Member States which wish to establish enhanced cooperation between themselves within the framework of the Union's non-exclusive competences may make use of its institutions and exercise those competences by applying the relevant provisions of the Treaties, subject to the limits and in accordance with the detailed arrangements laid down in this Article and in Articles 326 to 334 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Enhanced cooperation shall aim to further the objectives of the Union, protect its interests and reinforce its integration process. Such cooperation shall be open at any time to all Member States, in accordance with Article 328 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
2.The decision authorising enhanced cooperation shall be adopted by the Council as a last resort, when it has established that the objectives of such cooperation cannot be attained within a reasonable period by the Union as a whole, and provided that at least nine Member States participate in it. The Council shall act in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 329 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
3.All members of the Council may participate in its deliberations, but only members of the Council representing the Member States participating in enhanced cooperation shall take part in the vote. The voting rules are set out in Article 330 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
4.Acts adopted in the framework of enhanced cooperation shall bind only participating Member States. They shall not be regarded as part of the acquis which has to be accepted by candidate States for accession to the Union.
CHAPTER 1 - - GENERAL PROVISIONS ON THE UNION'S EXTERNAL ACTION
1.The Union's action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.
The Union shall seek to develop relations and build partnerships with third countries, and international, regional or global organisations which share the principles referred to in the first subparagraph. It shall promote multilateral solutions to common problems, in particular in the framework of the United Nations.
2.The Union shall define and pursue common policies and actions, and shall work for a high degree of cooperation in all fields of international relations, in order to:
(a)safeguard its values, fundamental interests, security, independence and integrity;
(b)consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law;
(c)preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, with the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and with the aims of the Charter of Paris, including those relating to external borders;
(d)foster the sustainable economic, social and environmental development of developing countries, with the primary aim of eradicating poverty;
(e)encourage the integration of all countries into the world economy, including through the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade;
(f)help develop international measures to preserve and improve the quality of the environment and the sustainable management of global natural resources, in order to ensure sustainable development;
(g)assist populations, countries and regions confronting natural or man-made disasters; and
(h)promote an international system based on stronger multilateral cooperation and good global governance.
3.The Union shall respect the principles and pursue the objectives set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 in the development and implementation of the different areas of the Union's external action covered by this Title and by Part Five of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and of the external aspects of its other policies.
The Union shall ensure consistency between the different areas of its external action and between these and its other policies. The Council and the Commission, assisted by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, shall ensure that consistency and shall cooperate to that effect.
1.On the basis of the principles and objectives set out in Article 21, the European Council shall identify the strategic interests and objectives of the Union.
Decisions of the European Council on the strategic interests and objectives of the Union shall relate to the common foreign and security policy and to other areas of the external action of the Union. Such decisions may concern the relations of the Union with a specific country or region or may be thematic in approach. They shall define their duration, and the means to be made available by the Union and the Member States.
The European Council shall act unanimously on a recommendation from the Council, adopted by the latter under the arrangements laid down for each area. Decisions of the European Council shall be implemented in accordance with the procedures provided for in the Treaties.
2.The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, for the area of common foreign and security policy, and the Commission, for other areas of external action, may submit joint proposals to the Council.
CHAPTER 2 - - SPECIFIC PROVISIONS ON THE COMMON FOREIGNAND SECURITY POLICY
SECTION 1 - COMMON PROVISIONS
The Union's action on the international scene, pursuant to this Chapter, shall be guided by the principles, shall pursue the objectives of, and be conducted in accordance with, the general provisions laid down in Chapter 1.
(ex Article 11 TEU)
1.The Union's competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union's security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence.
The common foreign and security policy is subject to specific rules and procedures. It shall be defined and implemented by the European Council and the Council acting unanimously, except where the Treaties provide otherwise. The adoption of legislative acts shall be excluded. The common foreign and security policy shall be put into effect by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and by Member States, in accordance with the Treaties. The specific role of the European Parliament and of the Commission in this area is defined by the Treaties. The Court of Justice of the European Union shall not have jurisdiction with respect to these provisions, with the exception of its jurisdiction to monitor compliance with Article 40 of this Treaty and to review the legality of certain decisions as provided for by the second paragraph of Article 275 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
2.Within the framework of the principles and objectives of its external action, the Union shall conduct, define and implement a common foreign and security policy, based on the development of mutual political solidarity among Member States, the identification of questions of general interest and the achievement of an ever-increasing degree of convergence of Member States' actions.
3.The Member States shall support the Union's external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the Union's action in this area.
The Member States shall work together to enhance and develop their mutual political solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations.
The Council and the High Representative shall ensure compliance with these principles.
(ex Article 12 TEU)
The Union shall conduct the common foreign and security policy by:
(a)defining the general guidelines;
(b)adopting decisions defining:
(i)actions to be undertaken by the Union;
(ii)positions to be taken by the Union;
(iii)arrangements for the implementation of the decisions referred to in points (i) and (ii);
(c)strengthening systematic cooperation between Member States in the conduct of policy.
(ex Article 13 TEU)
1.The European Council shall identify the Union's strategic interests, determine the objectives of and define general guidelines for the common foreign and security policy, including for matters with defence implications. It shall adopt the necessary decisions.
If international developments so require, the President of the European Council shall convene an extraordinary meeting of the European Council in order to define the strategic lines of the Union's policy in the face of such developments.
2.The Council shall frame the common foreign and security policy and take the decisions necessary for defining and implementing it on the basis of the general guidelines and strategic lines defined by the European Council.
The Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall ensure the unity, consistency and effectiveness of action by the Union.
3.The common foreign and security policy shall be put into effect by the High Representative and by the Member States, using national and Union resources.
1.The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who shall chair the Foreign Affairs Council, shall contribute through his proposals towards the preparation of the common foreign and security policy and shall ensure implementation of the decisions adopted by the European Council and the Council.
2.The High Representative shall represent the Union for matters relating to the common foreign and security policy. He shall conduct political dialogue with third parties on the Union's behalf and shall express the Union's position in international organisations and at international conferences.
3.In fulfilling his mandate, the High Representative shall be assisted by a European External Action Service. This service shall work in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the Member States and shall comprise officials from relevant departments of the General Secretariat of the Council and of the Commission as well as staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States. The organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service shall be established by a decision of the Council. The Council shall act on a proposal from the High Representative after consulting the European Parliament and after obtaining the consent of the Commission.
(ex Article 14 TEU)
1.Where the international situation requires operational action by the Union, the Council shall adopt the necessary decisions. They shall lay down their objectives, scope, the means to be made available to the Union, if necessary their duration, and the conditions for their implementation.
If there is a change in circumstances having a substantial effect on a question subject to such a decision, the Council shall review the principles and objectives of that decision and take the necessary decisions.
2.Decisions referred to in paragraph 1 shall commit the Member States in the positions they adopt and in the conduct of their activity.
3.Whenever there is any plan to adopt a national position or take national action pursuant to a decision as referred to in paragraph 1, information shall be provided by the Member State concerned in time to allow, if necessary, for prior consultations within the Council. The obligation to provide prior information shall not apply to measures which are merely a national transposition of Council decisions.
4.In cases of imperative need arising from changes in the situation and failing a review of the Council decision as referred to in paragraph 1, Member States may take the necessary measures as a matter of urgency having regard to the general objectives of that decision. The Member State concerned shall inform the Council immediately of any such measures.
5.Should there be any major difficulties in implementing a decision as referred to in this Article, a Member State shall refer them to the Council which shall discuss them and seek appropriate solutions. Such solutions shall not run counter to the objectives of the decision referred to in paragraph 1 or impair its effectiveness.
(ex Article 15 TEU)
The Council shall adopt decisions which shall define the approach of the Union to a particular matter of a geographical or thematic nature. Member States shall ensure that their national policies conform to the Union positions.
(ex Article 22 TEU)
1.Any Member State, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, or the High Representative with the Commission's support, may refer any question relating to the common foreign and security policy to the Council and may submit to it initiatives or proposals as appropriate.
2.In cases requiring a rapid decision, the High Representative, of his own motion, or at the request of a Member State, shall convene an extraordinary Council meeting within 48 hours or, in an emergency, within a shorter period.
(ex Article 23 TEU)
1.Decisions under this Chapter shall be taken by the European Council and the Council acting unanimously, except where this Chapter provides otherwise. The adoption of legislative acts shall be excluded.
When abstaining in a vote, any member of the Council may qualify its abstention by making a formal declaration under the present subparagraph. In that case, it shall not be obliged to apply the decision, but shall accept that the decision commits the Union. In a spirit of mutual solidarity, the Member State concerned shall refrain from any action likely to conflict with or impede Union action based on that decision and the other Member States shall respect its position. If the members of the Council qualifying their abstention in this way represent at least one third of the Member States comprising at least one third of the population of the Union, the decision shall not be adopted.
2.By derogation from the provisions of paragraph 1, the Council shall act by qualified majority:
when adopting a decision defining a Union action or position on the basis of a decision of the European Council relating to the Union's strategic interests and objectives, as referred to in Article 22(1),when adopting a decision defining a Union action or position, on a proposal which the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has presented following a specific request from the European Council, made on its own initiative or that of the High Representative,when adopting any decision implementing a decision defining a Union action or position,when appointing a special representative in accordance with Article 33.If a member of the Council declares that, for vital and stated reasons of national policy, it intends to oppose the adoption of a decision to be taken by qualified majority, a vote shall not be taken. The High Representative will, in close consultation with the Member State involved, search for a solution acceptable to it. If he does not succeed, the Council may, acting by a qualified majority, request that the matter be referred to the European Council for a decision by unanimity.
3.The European Council may unanimously adopt a decision stipulating that the Council shall act by a qualified majority in cases other than those referred to in paragraph 2.
4.Paragraphs 2 and 3 shall not apply to decisions having military or defence implications.
5.For procedural questions, the Council shall act by a majority of its members.
(ex Article 16 TEU)
Member States shall consult one another within the European Council and the Council on any matter of foreign and security policy of general interest in order to determine a common approach. Before undertaking any action on the international scene or entering into any commitment which could affect the Union's interests, each Member State shall consult the others within the European Council or the Council. Member States shall ensure, through the convergence of their actions, that the Union is able to assert its interests and values on the international scene. Member States shall show mutual solidarity.
When the European Council or the Council has defined a common approach of the Union within the meaning of the first paragraph, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Member States shall coordinate their activities within the Council.
The diplomatic missions of the Member States and the Union delegations in third countries and at international organisations shall cooperate and shall contribute to formulating and implementing the common approach.
(ex Article 18 TEU)
The Council may, on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, appoint a special representative with a mandate in relation to particular policy issues. The special representative shall carry out his mandate under the authority of the High Representative.
(ex Article 19 TEU)
1.Member States shall coordinate their action in international organisations and at international conferences. They shall uphold the Union's positions in such forums. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall organise this coordination.
In international organisations and at international conferences where not all the Member States participate, those which do take part shall uphold the Union's positions.
2.In accordance with Article 24(3), Member States represented in international organisations or international conferences where not all the Member States participate shall keep the other Member States and the High Representative informed of any matter of common interest.
Member States which are also members of the United Nations Security Council will concert and keep the other Member States and the High Representative fully informed. Member States which are members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, defend the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter.
When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be invited to present the Union's position.
(ex Article 20 TEU)
The diplomatic and consular missions of the Member States and the Union delegations in third countries and international conferences, and their representations to international organisations, shall cooperate in ensuring that decisions defining Union positions and actions adopted pursuant to this Chapter are complied with and implemented.
They shall step up cooperation by exchanging information and carrying out joint assessments.
They shall contribute to the implementation of the right of citizens of the Union to protection in the territory of third countries as referred to in Article 20(2)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and of the measures adopted pursuant to Article 23 of that Treaty.
(ex Article 21 TEU)
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall regularly consult the European Parliament on the main aspects and the basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and the common security and defence policy and inform it of how those policies evolve. He shall ensure that the views of the European Parliament are duly taken into consideration. Special representatives may be involved in briefing the European Parliament.
The European Parliament may ask questions of the Council or make recommendations to it and to the High Representative. Twice a year it shall hold a debate on progress in implementing the common foreign and security policy, including the common security and defence policy.
(ex Article 24 TEU)
The Union may conclude agreements with one or more States or international organisations in areas covered by this Chapter.
(ex Article 25 TEU)
Without prejudice to Article 240 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a Political and Security Committee shall monitor the international situation in the areas covered by the common foreign and security policy and contribute to the definition of policies by delivering opinions to the Council at the request of the Council or of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or on its own initiative. It shall also monitor the implementation of agreed policies, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative.
Within the scope of this Chapter, the Political and Security Committee shall exercise, under the responsibility of the Council and of the High Representative, the political control and strategic direction of the crisis management operations referred to in Article 43.
The Council may authorise the Committee, for the purpose and for the duration of a crisis management operation, as determined by the Council, to take the relevant decisions concerning the political control and strategic direction of the operation.
In accordance with Article 16 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and by way of derogation from paragraph 2 thereof, the Council shall adopt a decision laying down the rules relating to the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Member States when carrying out activities which fall within the scope of this Chapter, and the rules relating to the free movement of such data. Compliance with these rules shall be subject to the control of independent authorities.
(ex Article 47 TEU)
The implementation of the common foreign and security policy shall not affect the application of the procedures and the extent of the powers of the institutions laid down by the Treaties for the exercise of the Union competences referred to in Articles 3 to 6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Similarly, the implementation of the policies listed in those Articles shall not affect the application of the procedures and the extent of the powers of the institutions laid down by the Treaties for the exercise of the Union competences under this Chapter.
(ex Article 28 TEU)
1.Administrative expenditure to which the implementation of this Chapter gives rise for the institutions shall be charged to the Union budget.
2.Operating expenditure to which the implementation of this Chapter gives rise shall also be charged to the Union budget, except for such expenditure arising from operations having military or defence implications and cases where the Council acting unanimously decides otherwise.
In cases where expenditure is not charged to the Union budget, it shall be charged to the Member States in accordance with the gross national product scale, unless the Council acting unanimously decides otherwise. As for expenditure arising from operations having military or defence implications, Member States whose representatives in the Council have made a formal declaration under Article 31(1), second subparagraph, shall not be obliged to contribute to the financing thereof.
3.The Council shall adopt a decision establishing the specific procedures for guaranteeing rapid access to appropriations in the Union budget for urgent financing of initiatives in the framework of the common foreign and security policy, and in particular for preparatory activities for the tasks referred to in Article 42(1) and Article 43. It shall act after consulting the European Parliament.
Preparatory activities for the tasks referred to in Article 42(1) and Article 43 which are not charged to the Union budget shall be financed by a start-up fund made up of Member States' contributions.
The Council shall adopt by a qualified majority, on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, decisions establishing:
(a)the procedures for setting up and financing the start-up fund, in particular the amounts allocated to the fund;
(b)the procedures for administering the start-up fund;
(c)the financial control procedures.
When the task planned in accordance with Article 42(1) and Article 43 cannot be charged to the Union budget, the Council shall authorise the High Representative to use the fund. The High Representative shall report to the Council on the implementation of this remit.
SECTION 2 - PROVISIONS ON THE COMMON SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY
(ex Article 17 TEU)
1.The common security and defence policy shall be an integral part of the common foreign and security policy. It shall provide the Union with an operational capacity drawing on civilian and military assets. The Union may use them on missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. The performance of these tasks shall be undertaken using capabilities provided by the Member States.
2.The common security and defence policy shall include the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy. This will lead to a common defence, when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides. It shall in that case recommend to the Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.
The policy of the Union in accordance with this Section shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect the obligations of certain Member States, which see their common defence realised in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), under the North Atlantic Treaty and be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within that framework.
3.Member States shall make civilian and military capabilities available to the Union for the implementation of the common security and defence policy, to contribute to the objectives defined by the Council. Those Member States which together establish multinational forces may also make them available to the common security and defence policy.
Member States shall undertake progressively to improve their military capabilities. The Agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments (hereinafter referred to as "the European Defence Agency") shall identify operational requirements, shall promote measures to satisfy those requirements, shall contribute to identifying and, where appropriate, implementing any measure needed to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector, shall participate in defining a European capabilities and armaments policy, and shall assist the Council in evaluating the improvement of military capabilities.
4.Decisions relating to the common security and defence policy, including those initiating a mission as referred to in this Article, shall be adopted by the Council acting unanimously on a proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy or an initiative from a Member State. The High Representative may propose the use of both national resources and Union instruments, together with the Commission where appropriate.
5.The Council may entrust the execution of a task, within the Union framework, to a group of Member States in order to protect the Union's values and serve its interests. The execution of such a task shall be governed by Article 44.
6.Those Member States whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the Union framework. Such cooperation shall be governed by Article 46. It shall not affect the provisions of Article 43.
7.If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.
Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.
1.The tasks referred to in Article 42(1), in the course of which the Union may use civilian and military means, shall include joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation. All these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories.
2.The Council shall adopt decisions relating to the tasks referred to in paragraph 1, defining their objectives and scope and the general conditions for their implementation. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, acting under the authority of the Council and in close and constant contact with the Political and Security Committee, shall ensure coordination of the civilian and military aspects of such tasks.
1.Within the framework of the decisions adopted in accordance with Article 43, the Council may entrust the implementation of a task to a group of Member States which are willing and have the necessary capability for such a task. Those Member States, in association with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, shall agree among themselves on the management of the task.
2.Member States participating in the task shall keep the Council regularly informed of its progress on their own initiative or at the request of another Member State. Those States shall inform the Council immediately should the completion of the task entail major consequences or require amendment of the objective, scope and conditions determined for the task in the decisions referred to in paragraph 1. In such cases, the Council shall adopt the necessary decisions.
1.The European Defence Agency referred to in Article 42(3), subject to the authority of the Council, shall have as its task to:
(a)contribute to identifying the Member States' military capability objectives and evaluating observance of the capability commitments given by the Member States;
(b)promote harmonisation of operational needs and adoption of effective, compatible procurement methods;
(c)propose multilateral projects to fulfil the objectives in terms of military capabilities, ensure coordination of the programmes implemented by the Member States and management of specific cooperation programmes;
(d)support defence technology research, and coordinate and plan joint research activities and the study of technical solutions meeting future operational needs;
(e)contribute to identifying and, if necessary, implementing any useful measure for strengthening the industrial and technological base of the defence sector and for improving the effectiveness of military expenditure.
2.The European Defence Agency shall be open to all Member States wishing to be part of it. The Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall adopt a decision defining the Agency's statute, seat and operational rules. That decision should take account of the level of effective participation in the Agency's activities. Specific groups shall be set up within the Agency bringing together Member States engaged in joint projects. The Agency shall carry out its tasks in liaison with the Commission where necessary.
1.Those Member States which wish to participate in the permanent structured cooperation referred to in Article 42(6), which fulfil the criteria and have made the commitments on military capabilities set out in the Protocol on permanent structured cooperation, shall notify their intention to the Council and to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
2.Within three months following the notification referred to in paragraph 1 the Council shall adopt a decision establishing permanent structured cooperation and determining the list of participating Member States. The Council shall act by a qualified majority after consulting the High Representative.
3.Any Member State which, at a later stage, wishes to participate in the permanent structured cooperation shall notify its intention to the Council and to the High Representative.
The Council shall adopt a decision confirming the participation of the Member State concerned which fulfils the criteria and makes the commitments referred to in Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocol on permanent structured cooperation. The Council shall act by a qualified majority after consulting the High Representative. Only members of the Council representing the participating Member States shall take part in the vote.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
4.If a participating Member State no longer fulfils the criteria or is no longer able to meet the commitments referred to in Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocol on permanent structured cooperation, the Council may adopt a decision suspending the participation of the Member State concerned.
The Council shall act by a qualified majority. Only members of the Council representing the participating Member States, with the exception of the Member State in question, shall take part in the vote.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5.Any participating Member State which wishes to withdraw from permanent structured cooperation shall notify its intention to the Council, which shall take note that the Member State in question has ceased to participate.
6.The decisions and recommendations of the Council within the framework of permanent structured cooperation, other than those provided for in paragraphs 2 to 5, shall be adopted by unanimity. For the purposes of this paragraph, unanimity shall be constituted by the votes of the representatives of the participating Member States only.
The Union shall have legal personality.
(ex Article 48 TEU)
1.The Treaties may be amended in accordance with an ordinary revision procedure. They may also be amended in accordance with simplified revision procedures.
Ordinary revision procedure
2.The Government of any Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission may submit to the Council proposals for the amendment of the Treaties. These proposals may, inter alia, serve either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties. These proposals shall be submitted to the European Council by the Council and the national Parliaments shall be notified.
3.If the European Council, after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, adopts by a simple majority a decision in favour of examining the proposed amendments, the President of the European Council shall convene a Convention composed of representatives of the national Parliaments, of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, of the European Parliament and of the Commission. The European Central Bank shall also be consulted in the case of institutional changes in the monetary area. The Convention shall examine the proposals for amendments and shall adopt by consensus a recommendation to a conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States as provided for in paragraph 4.
The European Council may decide by a simple majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, not to convene a Convention should this not be justified by the extent of the proposed amendments. In the latter case, the European Council shall define the terms of reference for a conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States.
4.A conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States shall be convened by the President of the Council for the purpose of determining by common accord the amendments to be made to the Treaties.
The amendments shall enter into force after being ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.
5.If, two years after the signature of a treaty amending the Treaties, four fifths of the Member States have ratified it and one or more Member States have encountered difficulties in proceeding with ratification, the matter shall be referred to the European Council.
Simplified revision procedures
6.The Government of any Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission may submit to the European Council proposals for revising all or part of the provisions of Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union relating to the internal policies and action of the Union.
The European Council may adopt a decision amending all or part of the provisions of Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The European Council shall act by unanimity after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, and the European Central Bank in the case of institutional changes in the monetary area. That decision shall not enter into force until it is approved by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.
The decision referred to in the second subparagraph shall not increase the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties.
7.Where the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union or Title V of this Treaty provides for the Council to act by unanimity in a given area or case, the European Council may adopt a decision authorising the Council to act by a qualified majority in that area or in that case. This subparagraph shall not apply to decisions with military implications or those in the area of defence.
Where the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for legislative acts to be adopted by the Council in accordance with a special legislative procedure, the European Council may adopt a decision allowing for the adoption of such acts in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.
Any initiative taken by the European Council on the basis of the first or the second subparagraph shall be notified to the national Parliaments. If a national Parliament makes known its opposition within six months of the date of such notification, the decision referred to in the first or the second subparagraph shall not be adopted. In the absence of opposition, the European Council may adopt the decision.
For the adoption of the decisions referred to in the first and second subparagraphs, the European Council shall act by unanimity after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, which shall be given by a majority of its component members.
(ex Article 49 TEU)
Any European State which respects the values referred to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union. The European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be notified of this application. The applicant State shall address its application to the Council, which shall act unanimously after consulting the Commission and after receiving the consent of the European Parliament, which shall act by a majority of its component members. The conditions of eligibility agreed upon by the European Council shall be taken into account.
The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded, which such admission entails, shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State. This agreement shall be submitted for ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.
1.Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2.A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3.The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4.For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5.If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
The Protocols and Annexes to the Treaties shall form an integral part thereof.
1.The Treaties shall apply to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Kingdom of Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Estonia, Ireland, the Hellenic Republic, the Kingdom of Spain, the French Republic, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Poland, the Portuguese Republic, Romania, the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, the Republic of Finland, the Kingdom of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
2.The territorial scope of the Treaties is specified in Article 355 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
(ex Article 51 TEU)
This Treaty is concluded for an unlimited period.
(ex Article 52 TEU)
1.This Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Government of the Italian Republic.
2.This Treaty shall enter into force on 1 January 1993, provided that all the Instruments of ratification have been deposited, or, failing that, on the first day of the month following the deposit of the Instrument of ratification by the last signatory State to take this step.
(ex Article 53 TEU)
1.This Treaty, drawn up in a single original in the Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish languages, the texts in each of these languages being equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Government of the Italian Republic, which will transmit a certified copy to each of the governments of the other signatory States.
2.This Treaty may also be translated into any other languages as determined by Member States among those which, in accordance with their constitutional order, enjoy official status in all or part of their territory. A certified copy of such translations shall be provided by the Member States concerned to be deposited in the archives of the Council.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned Plenipotentiaries have signed this Treaty.
Done at Maastricht on the seventh day of February in the year one thousand and ninety'two.
(List of signatories not reproduced)
'The Republic of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Poland, Romania, the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden have since become members of the European Union.'These references are merely indicative. For more ample information, please refer to the tables of equivalences between the old and the new numbering of the Treaties.
HUNGARY-full-text of legal act Article 7 of the EU Treaty (TEU)
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:53
1. On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure.The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply.
2. The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2, after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.
3. Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.
The obligations of the Member State in question under this Treaty shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.
4. The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures taken under paragraph 3 in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed.
5. The voting arrangements applying to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council for the purposes of this Article are laid down in Article 354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
REPORT on the situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary (pursuant to the European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2012) - A7-0229/2013
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:53
on the situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary (pursuant to the European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2012)
The European Parliament,
'' having regard to Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), setting out the values upon which the Union is founded,
'' having regard to Articles 3, 4, 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), Articles 49, 56, 114, 167 and 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR),
'' having regard to its resolution of 16 February 2012 on the recent political developments in Hungary(1) instructing the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, in cooperation with the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission, to follow up the issue of whether and how the recommendations set out in that resolution have been implemented, and to present its findings in a report,
'' having regard to its resolutions of 10 March 2011 on the media law in Hungary(2) and of 5 July 2011 on the Revised Hungarian Constitution(3),
'' having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2010 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2009) '' effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon(4),
'' having regard to its resolution of 12 December 2012 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2010-2011)(5),
'' having regard to the Commission Communication on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union '' Respect for and promotion of the values on which the Union is based (COM(2003)0606),
'' having regard to the Council and Commission statements presented at the plenary debate held in the European Parliament on 18 January 2012 on the recent political developments in Hungary,
'' having regard to the statements of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbn, who addressed the European Parliament on 18 January 2012 in the plenary debate on the recent political developments in Hungary,
'' having regard to the hearing held on 9 February 2012 by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,
'' having regard to the report of a delegation of Members of the European Parliament on their visit to Budapest from 24 to 26 September 2012,
'' having regard to the working documents on the situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary (pursuant to the European Parliament resolution of 16 February 2012) comprising working documents No 1 '' Independence of the Judiciary, No 2 '' Fundamental principles and Fundamental Rights, No 3 '' Media legislation, No 4 '' Principles of democracy and the rule of law, and No 5 '' Concluding Remarks by the Rapporteur, which were discussed in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on 10 July 2012, 20 September 2012, 22 January 2013, 7 March 2013 and 8 April 2013 respectively, as well as the comments of the Hungarian Government thereon,
'' having regard to the Fundamental Law of Hungary, adopted on 18 April 2011 by the National Assembly of the Hungarian Republic, which entered into force on 1 January 2012 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Fundamental Law'), and the Transitional Provisions of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, adopted on 30 December 2011 by the National Assembly, which also entered into force on 1 January 2012 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Transitional Provisions'),
'' having regard to the First Amendment to the Fundamental Law, tabled by the Minister for National Economy on 17 April 2012 and adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 4 June 2012, establishing that the Transitional Provisions are part of the Fundamental Law,
'' having regard to the Second Amendment to the Fundamental Law, tabled on 18 September 2012 in the form of an individual member's bill and adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 29 October 2012, introducing the requirement of voter registration into the Transitional Provisions,
'' having regard to the Third Amendment to the Fundamental Law, tabled on 7 December 2012, adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 21 December 2012 and establishing that the limits and conditions for acquisition of ownership and for use of arable land and forests and the rules concerning the organisation of integrated agricultural production are to be laid down by cardinal law,
'' having regard to the Fourth Amendment of the Fundamental Law, tabled on 8 February 2013 in the form of an individual member's bill and adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 11 March 2013, which, among other provisions, integrates into the text of the Fundamental Law the Transitional Provisions (with some exceptions including the provision requiring voter registration) annulled by the Constitutional Court of Hungary on 28 December 2012 on procedural grounds (Decision No 45/2012), and remaining provisions of a genuinely transitional nature in this document,
'' having regard to Act CXI of 2012 on the Amendment of Act CLXI of 2011 on the organisation and administration of courts and Act CLXII of 2011 on the legal status and remuneration of judges in Hungary,
'' having regard to Act XX of 2013 on the legislative amendments relating to the upper age limit applicable in certain judicial legal relations,,
'' having regard to Act CCVI of 2011 on the right to freedom of conscience and religion and the legal status of churches, denominations and religious communities of Hungary (the Act on Churches), which was adopted on 30 December 2011 and entered into force on 1 January 2012,
'' having regard to Opinions Nos CDL(2011)016, CDL(2011)001, CDL-AD(2012)001, CDL-AD(2012)009, CDL-AD(2012)020 and CDL-AD(2012)004 of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) on the new Constitution of Hungary, on the three legal questions arising from the process of drafting the new Constitution of Hungary, on Act CLXII of 2011 on the legal status and remuneration of judges of Hungary and Act CLXI of 2011 on the organisation and administration of courts of Hungary, on Act CLI of 2011 on the Constitutional Court of Hungary, on the cardinal acts on the judiciary that were amended following the adoption of opinion CDL-AD(2012)001 on Hungary, and on the Act on the right to freedom of conscience and religion and the legal status of churches, denominations and religious communities of Hungary,
'' having regard to Joint Opinion No CDL-AD(2012)012 of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR on the Act on the elections of Members of Parliament of Hungary,
'' having regard to the Hungarian Government's comments Nos CDL(2012)072, CDL(2012)046 and CDL(2012)045 on the draft opinion of the Venice Commission on the cardinal acts on the judiciary that were amended following the adoption of opinion CDL-AD(2012)001, on the draft joint opinion on the Act on the elections of Members of Parliament of Hungary and on the draft opinion on Act CLI of 2011 on the Constitutional Court of Hungary,
'' having regard to the initiatives undertaken by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbj¸rn Jagland, including the recommendations on the judiciary laid down in his letter of 24 April 2012 addressed to the Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister, Tibor Navracsics,
'' having regard to the letters of reply of 10 May 2012 and of 7 June 2012 from Mr Navracsics declaring the intention of the Hungarian authorities to address the recommendations by Mr Jagland,
'' having regard to the letter of 6 March 2013 sent by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Jagland, to Mr Navracsics expressing his concerns about the proposal for the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law and calling for the postponement of the final vote, and the letter of reply of 7 March 2013 from Mr Navracsics,
'' having regard to the letter of 6 March 2013 sent by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland to the Commission President, Jos(C) Manuel Barroso, calling for a mechanism to foster compliance with fundamental values in the Member States,
'' having regard to the letter of 8 March 2013 sent by the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Jnos Martonyi, to all his counterparts in the Member States of the EU explaining the purpose of the Fourth Amendment,
'' having regard to the letter of 8 March 2013 sent by Mr Barroso to Mr Orbn on the concerns of the European Commission regarding the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law and the letter of reply from Mr Orbn to the Commission President, copies of which were sent to both the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz,
'' having regard to the joint statement of 11 March 2013 by President Barroso and Secretary General Jagland recalling their concerns regarding the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law with respect to the principle of the rule of law; and having regard to the confirmation made by Prime Minister Orbn, in his letter addressed to President Barroso on 8 March 2013, of the full commitment of the Hungarian Government and Parliament to the European norms and values,
'' having regard to the request for an opinion of the Venice Commission on the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Hungary, sent on 13 March 2013 by Mr Martonyi to Mr Jagland,
'' having regard to the Council and Commission statements on the constitutional situation in Hungary presented at the plenary debate held in the European Parliament on 17 April 2013,
'' having regard to the letter of 16 December 2011 from the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg, to Mr Martonyi, raising concerns on the subject of the new Hungarian law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Legal Status of Churches, religious denominations and religious communities, and having regard to Mr Martonyi's reply of 12 January 2012,
'' having regard to Opinion No CommDH(2011)10 of 25 February 2011 of the Commissioner for Human Rights on Hungary's media legislation in light of the Council of Europe's standards on freedom of the media, as well as to the annotations to that opinion of 30 May 2011 from the Hungarian Minister of State for Government Communication,
'' having regard to the statements by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of 15 February 2012 and 11 December 2012 calling respectively on Hungary to reconsider legislation allowing local authorities to punish homelessness and to uphold the Constitutional Court's decision decriminalising homelessness,
'' having regard to the statements by the OHCHR of 15 March 2013 voicing concerns over the adoption of the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law,
'' having regard to the ongoing infringement proceedings in Case C-288/12 brought by the European Commission against Hungary over the legality of the termination of the mandate of the former Commissioner for Data Protection still pending before the European Court of Justice,
'' having regard to the Decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 6 November 2012 on the radical lowering of the retirement age for Hungarian judges, and having regard to the subsequent adoption of Act No XX of 2013 amending Act CLXII of 2011 '' adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 11 March 2013 '' following the decision of the European Court of Justice,
'' having regard to the Decisions of the Constitutional Court of Hungary of 16 July 2012 (No 33/2012) on the lowering of the retirement age of judges in Hungary, of 28 December 2012 (No 45/2012) on the Transitional Provisions of the Fundamental Law, of 4 January 2013 (No 1/2013) on the Act on the electoral procedure and of 26 February 2013 (No 6/2013) on the Act on freedom of religion and the legal status of churches,
- having regard to the upcoming report by the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
- having regard to the upcoming assessment of the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law by the European Commission,
'' having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,
'' having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A7-0229/2013),
I-Background and main issues at stake
European common values
A. whereas the European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as set out in Article 2 TEU, on unequivocal respect for fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and in the ECHR, and on the recognition of the legal value of such rights, freedoms and principles, as is further demonstrated by the EU's forthcoming accession to the ECHR pursuant to Article 6(2) TEU;
B. whereas the common values enshrined in Article 2 TEU constitute the core of the rights enjoyed by persons living within the EU and especially by EU citizens, irrespective of their nationality and no matter where they might consider themselves to belong in cultural or religious terms, and whereas such persons can fully enjoy those rights only if the EU's fundamental values and principles are upheld;
C. whereas the values set out in Article 2 TEU have to be addressed politically and legally, this being an indispensable foundation of our democratic society, and whereas, therefore, Member States, as well as all the EU institutions, must commit themselves to them, clearly and unambiguously;
D. whereas respecting and promoting such common values is not only an essential element of the European Union's identity but also an explicit obligation deriving from Article 3(1) and (5) TEU, and therefore a sine qua non for becoming an EU Member State as well as for fully preserving membership prerogatives;
E. whereas the obligations incumbent on candidate countries under the Copenhagen criteria continue to apply to the Member States after joining the EU by virtue of Article 2 TEU and the principle of sincere cooperation, and whereas all Member States should therefore be assessed on a regular basis in order to verify their continued compliance with the EU's common values;
F. whereas Article 6(3) TEU underscores the fact that fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the ECHR and as arising from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, constitute general principles of Union law, and whereas such rights are a common heritage and strength of democratic European states;
G. whereas, with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and pursuant to Article 6 TEU, the Charter has the same legal value as the Treaties, hence transforming values and principles into tangible and enforceable rights;
H. whereas Article 7(1) TEU, by a defined procedure, grants the EU institutions the power to assess whether there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the common values referred to in Article 2 by a Member State, and to engage politically with the country concerned in order to prevent and redress violations; whereas before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question, acting in accordance with the same procedure;
I. whereas the scope of Article 2 TEU is not restricted by the limitation of Article 51(1) of the Charter, whereas the scope of Article 7 TEU is not limited to the policy areas covered by EU law, and whereas as a consequence the EU can also act in the event of a breach of, or a clear risk of a breach of, the common values in areas falling under Member States' competences;
J. whereas, pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation laid down in Article 4(3) TEU, Member States are to facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measures which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives, including the objective of respecting and promoting the Union's common values;
K. whereas respect for the Union's common values goes hand in hand with the EU's commitment to diversity, translated into the obligation for the Union to respect 'the equality of Member States before the Treaties as well as their national identities, inherent in their fundamental structures, political and constitutional', as stated in Article 4(2) TEU; whereas the European core values set out in Article 2 TEU result from the constitutional traditions common to the Members States and cannot therefore be played off against the obligation under Article 4 TEU, but make up the basic framework within which Member States can preserve and develop their national identity;
L. whereas, in the framework of the Treaties, respect for 'national identities' (Article 4(2) TEU) and for 'different legal systems and traditions of the Member States' (Article 67 TFEU) are intrinsically associated with the principles of sincere cooperation (Article 4(3) TEU), mutual recognition (Articles 81 and 82 TFEU) and thus mutual trust, as well as with respect for cultural and linguistic diversity (Article 3(3) TEU);
M. whereas a violation of the Union's common principles and values by a Member State cannot be justified by national traditions nor by the expression of a national identity when such a violation results in the deterioration of the principles which are at the heart of European integration, such as democratic values, the rule of law or the principle of mutual recognition, with the consequence that a referral to Article 4(2) TEU is applicable only in so far as a Member State respects the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU;
N. whereas the Union's objective of upholding and promoting its values in its relations with the wider world, as set out in Article 3(4) TEU, is further reinforced by the specific obligation for the Union's action on the international scene to be guided by the principles which inspired its creation, development and enlargement: democracy, the rule of law and the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms (21(1) TEU);
O. whereas, therefore, not only the credibility of the Member States and of the EU on the international scene, but also the Union's objectives in its external action, would be undermined if Member States were not able or willing to live up to the standards to which they have agreed and bound themselves by signing the Treaties;
P. whereas respect by the Member States for the same set of fundamental values is an indispensable condition for ensuring mutual trust and, consequently, the proper functioning of mutual recognition, which is at the heart of the creation and development of the internal market as well as of the European area of freedom, security and justice, and whereas, therefore, any attempt to disrespect or weaken those common values adversely affects the whole construction of the European process of economic, social and political integration;
Q. whereas the common values set out in Article 2 TEU and proclaimed in the Preambles to the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and referred to in the Preamble to the ECHR and in Article 3 of the Statute of the Council of Europe require a separation of powers between independent institutions based on a properly functioning system of checks and balances, and whereas core features of these principles include: respect for legality, including a transparent, accountable and democratic process of enacting laws; legal certainty; a strong system of representative democracy based on free elections and respecting the rights of opposition; effective control of the conformity of legislation with the constitution; an effective, transparent, participatory and accountable government and administration; an independent and impartial judiciary; independent media; and respect for fundamental rights;
R. whereas the Commission, under Article 17 TEU, 'ensure[s] the application of the Treaties ... [and] oversee[s] the application of Union law under the control of the Court of Justice of the European Union';
S. whereas Hungary was the first former Communist country to accede to the ECHR, and as an EU Member State was the first to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon on 17 December 2007, and whereas Hungary played an active part in the work of the Convention and the Intergovernmental Conference in 2003 and 2004 in, among other issues, the drafting of Article 2 TEU, and took the initiative which resulted in the inclusion of the rights of persons belonging to minorities;
T. whereas over the course of Hungary's centuries-long history, the peaceful coexistence of nationalities and ethnic groups has enhanced the nation's cultural richness and its prosperity; and whereas Hungary should be called upon to continue that tradition and to take resolute steps to curb any attempts to discriminate against individual groups;
U. whereas Hungary is also a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international legal instruments obliging it to respect and implement international democratic principles;
V. whereas following the 2010 general elections in Hungary, the governing majority gained more than two thirds of the seats in parliament, enabling it to rapidly initiate intense legislative activity to reshape the whole constitutional order of the country (the former Constitution has been amended twelve times and the Fundamental Law four times so far) and thus substantially to modify the institutional and legal framework, as well as a number of fundamental aspects of not only public but also private life;
W. whereas any Member State of the European Union is absolutely free to review its constitution and whereas the very meaning of democratic alternation is that it enables a new government to enact legislation reflecting the will of the people, its values and its political commitments, provided that, in so doing, it does not breach the values and principles of democracy and the rule of law prevailing in the European Union; whereas in all Member States special constitutional procedures render constitutional amendment more difficult compared with procedures governing ordinary legislation, namely through the use of a qualified majority, additional decisional processes, time delays and referenda;
X. whereas the history of democratic traditions in Europe shows that reforming a constitution requires the utmost care and due consideration of procedures and guarantees aimed at preserving, among other things, the rule of law, the separation of powers and the hierarchy of legal norms '' the constitution being the supreme law of the land;
Y. whereas the scale of the comprehensive and systematic constitutional and institutional reforms which the new Hungarian Government and Parliament have carried out in an exceptionally short time frame is unprecedented, and explains why so many European institutions and organisations (the European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE) have deemed it necessary to assess the impact of some reforms; whereas there should be no double standards in the treatment of Member States, meaning that the situation in other Member States should also be monitored, while enforcing the principle of equality of the Member States before the Treaties;
Z. whereas a dialogue based on openness, inclusiveness, solidarity and mutual respect between the European institutions and the Hungarian authorities is necessary in the framework of the abovementioned community of democratic values;
AA. whereas the Commission, in the exercise of its responsibility for overseeing the application of Union law, has to show the utmost skill, respect the independence of others and act diligently, swiftly and without delay, especially when it is called upon to deal with a case in which a Member State may have committed a serious breach of Union values;
The Fundamental Law and itsTransitionalProvisions
AB. whereas the adoption of the Fundamental Law of Hungary '' which was passed on 18 April 2011, exclusively with the votes of the members of the governing coalition and on the basis of a draft text prepared by the representatives of the governing coalition '' was conducted in the short time frame of 35 calendar days calculated from the presentation of proposal (T/2627) to the parliament, thus restricting the possibilities for a thorough and substantial debate with the opposition parties and civil society on the draft text;
AC. whereas the draft constitutional text submitted to the Hungarian Parliament on 14 March 2011 was the one produced by the elected representatives of the Fidesz-KDNP coalition and not the working document based on the discussions within the ad hoc parliamentary committee, even though that committee had been set up expressly for the purpose of drafting the new Fundamental Law; whereas this situation exacerbated the failure to consult the opposition;
AD. whereas the 'national consultation' on constitution making consisted of a list of twelve questions on very specific issues drafted by the governing party in a way that could have led to self-evident replies, and whereas the consultation did not include the text of the draft Fundamental Law;
AE. Whereas on 28 December 2012, following a constitutional petition by the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the Constitutional Court of Hungary annulled (Decision No 45/2012) more than two thirds of the Transitional Provisions on the grounds that they were not of a transitional nature;
AF. whereas the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law, adopted on 11 March 2013, integrates into the text of the Fundamental Law most of the Transitional Provisions annulled by the Constitutional Court, as well as other provisions previously found unconstitutional;
Extensive use of cardinal laws
AG. whereas the Fundamental Law of Hungary refers to 26 subject matters to be defined by cardinal laws (that is laws the adoption of which requires a two-thirds majority), which cover a wide range of issues relating to Hungary's institutional system, the exercise of fundamental rights and important arrangements in society;
AH. whereas since the adoption of the Fundamental Law the parliament has enacted 49 cardinal laws(6) (in one and a half years);
AI. whereas a number of issues, such as specific aspects of family law and the tax and pension systems, which usually fall under the ordinary decision-making powers of a legislature, are regulated by cardinal laws;
Accelerated legislative procedures, practice of individual members' bills, parliamentary debate
AJ. whereas important legislation, including the Fundamental Law, the second and fourth amendments thereto, the Transitional Provisions of the Fundamental Law and a number of cardinal laws, were enacted on the basis of individual members' bills, to which the rules set out in Act CXXXI of 2010 on the participation of civil society in the preparation of legislation and in Decree 24/2011 of the Minister of Public Administration and Justice on preliminary and ex-post impact assessment do not apply, with the consequence that legislation adopted through this streamlined procedure is subject to a restricted public debate;
AK. whereas the adoption of a large number of cardinal laws in a very short time frame, including the acts on the legal status and remuneration of judges of Hungary and on the organisation and administration of courts of Hungary, as well as the acts on the freedom of religion or belief and on the National Bank of Hungary, inevitably restricted the possibilities for an adequate consultation of the opposition parties and civil society, including, when relevant, employers' organisations, trade unions and interest groups;
AL. whereas Act XXXVI of 2012 on the National Assembly has vested the Speaker of the Parliament with extensive discretionary power to limit MPs' free expression in the parliament;
Weakening of checks and balances: Constitutional Court, Parliament,DataProtectionAuthority
AM. whereas, under the Fundamental Law, the possibility for two new kinds of constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Court has been introduced, while the actio popularis for ex post review has been abolished;
AN. whereas under the Fundamental Law the Constitutional Court's powers of ex post review of the constitutionality of budget-related laws from a substantive point of view have been substantially limited to violations of an exhaustive list of rights, thus obstructing the review of constitutionality in cases of breaches of other fundamental rights such as the right to property, the right to a fair trial and the right not to be discriminated against;
AO. whereas the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law left untouched the already existing right of the Constitutional Court to review amendments to the Fundamental Law on procedural grounds, and whereas it excludes the Court being able in the future to review constitutional amendments on substantive grounds;
AP. whereas the Constitutional Court, in its abovementioned Decision 45/2012, held that 'Constitutional legality has not only procedural, formal and public law validity requirements, but also substantial ones. The constitutional criteria of a democratic State under the rule of law are at the same time constitutional values, principles and fundamental democratic freedoms enshrined in international treaties and accepted and acknowledged by communities of democratic States under the rule of law, as well as the ius cogens, which is partly the same as the foregoing. As appropriate, the Constitutional Court may even examine the free enforcement and the constitutionalisation of the substantial requirements, guarantees and values of democratic States under the rule of law.' (Point IV.7 of the Decision);
AQ. whereas the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law further stipulates that the rulings of the Constitutional Court adopted before the entry into force of the Fundamental Law shall be repealed, and by doing so explicitly contradicts the Constitutional Court's Decision No 22/2012 in which the Court established that its statements made on fundamental values, human rights and freedoms and on the constitutional institutions that have not been changed fundamentally by the Fundamental Law remain valid; whereas the Fourth Amendment reintroduced into the Fundamental Law a number of provisions previously declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court;
AR. whereas a non-parliamentary body, the Budget Council, with limited democratic legitimacy, has been granted the power to veto the adoption of the general budget, thus restricting the scope for action of the democratically elected legislature and allowing the President of the Republic to dissolve the parliament;
AS. whereas the new Freedom of Information Act, adopted in July 2011, abolished the institution of the Commissioner on Data Protection and Freedom of Information, thus prematurely terminating the six-year-long mandate of the Commissioner and transferring its powers to the newly established National Authority for Data Protection; whereas such changes are currently under review by the Court of Justice of the European Union;
AT. whereas the Commission initiated an infringement procedure against Hungary on 8 June 2012, declaring that Hungary had failed to fulfil its obligations under Directive 95/46/EC by removing the data protection supervisor from office before the end of the mandate, thus putting at risk the independence of the office;
Independenceof the judiciary
AU. whereas, according to the Fundamental Law and its Transitional Provisions, the six-year-long mandate of the former President of the Supreme Court (renamed the 'Kºria') was prematurely ended after two years;
AV. whereas on 2 July 2012 Hungary amended the cardinal laws on the judiciary (Act CLXI of 2011 on the Organisation and Administration of Courts and Act CLXII of 2011 on the Legal Status and Remuneration of Judges), partly implementing the recommendations of the Venice Commission;
AW. whereas key safeguards for judicial independence, such as irremovability, guaranteed term of office and the structure and composition of the governing bodies, are not regulated by the Fundamental Law but are '' together with detailed rules on the organisation and administration of the judiciary '' still set out in the amended cardinal laws,
AX. whereas the independence of the Constitutional Court is not set forth in the Fundamental Law of Hungary and neither is the independence of the administration of the judiciary;
AY. whereas the amendment of the cardinal laws on the judiciary as regards the power of the President of the National Judicial Office to transfer cases from the presiding court to another court to ensure the adjudication of cases within a reasonable period of time fails to lay down objective normative criteria for the selection of the cases to be transferred;
AZ. whereas, following the entry into force of the Fundamental Law, its Transitional Provisions and cardinal Act No CLXII of 2011 on the legal status and remuneration of judges, the mandatory retirement age for judges was reduced from 70 to 62 years of age;
BA. whereas the Decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union, adopted on 6 November 2012, states that the radical lowering of the retirement age for Hungarian judges, as well as prosecutors and notaries, from 70 to 62 constitutes unjustified discrimination on grounds of age, and whereas two complaints were submitted by two groups of Hungarian judges to the ECtHR on 20 June 2012 seeking a ruling to establish that Hungary's legislation on lowering the retirement age for judges violates the ECHR;
BB. whereas on 11 March 2013 the Hungarian Parliament adopted Act No XX of 2013 amending the upper age limits with a view to partly complying with the rulings of the Hungarian Constitutional Court of 16 July 2012 and of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 6 November 2012;
The electoral reform
BC. whereas the governing majority in parliament reformed the election system in a unilateral manner without striving for consensus with the opposition,
BD. whereas as part of the recent electoral reform the Hungarian Parliament passed, on 26 November 2012, on the basis of an individual member's bill, the Act on the election procedure, which aimed to replace the previous automatic voter registration of all citizens resident in Hungary by a system of voluntary registration as a condition for exercising the individual's right to vote,
BE. whereas the Second Amendment to the Fundamental Law enshrining the requirement of voter registration was tabled as an individual member's bill on the same day as the draft law on the election procedure, namely on 18 September 2012, and was adopted on 29 October 2012,
BF. whereas the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR prepared a joint opinion on the Act on the Election of Members of Parliament of Hungary on 15 and 16 June 2012,
BG. whereas, following the petition of the President of the Republic of 6 December 2012, the Constitutional Court established that the registration requirement represents an undue restriction on the voting rights of Hungarian residents, and is therefore unconstitutional,
BH. whereas, while considering voter registration for citizens residing abroad as justified, the Constitutional Court in its decision of 4 January 2013 further held that exclusion of the possibility of personal registration of voters without an address living in Hungary is discriminatory and that the provisions allowing the publication of political advertisements only in the public media service during the electoral campaign, and the rules banning the publication of public opinion polls within six days of the elections, disproportionally limit freedom of expression and freedom of the press,
BI. whereas the European Union is founded on the values of democracy and the rule of law, and consequently guarantees and promotes freedom of expression and information as enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter and Article 10 of the ECHR, and whereas these rights include the freedom to express opinions and the freedom to receive and communicate information without control, interference or pressure from public authorities;
BJ. whereas the ECtHR has ruled that there is a positive obligation on Member States to ensure media pluralism, arising from Article 10 ECHR, and whereas the Convention's provisions are similar to those contained in Article 11 of the Charter as part of the acquis communautaire;
BK. whereas an autonomous and strong public sphere, based on independent and pluralistic media, constitutes the necessary environment in which the collective freedoms of civil society '' such as the right of assembly and association '' as well as individual freedoms '' such as the right to freedom of expression and the right of access to information '' can thrive, and whereas journalists should be free from the pressure of owners, managers and governments, as well as from financial threats;
BL. whereas the Council of Europe and the OSCE, through declarations, resolutions, recommendations, opinions and reports on the subjects of media freedom, pluralism and concentration, have created a significant body of common pan-European minimum standards in this field;
BM. whereas Member States have a duty constantly to promote and protect freedom of opinion, expression, information and the media, and whereas, should these freedoms be placed at serious risk or violated in a Member State, the Union is obliged to intervene in a timely and effective fashion, on the basis of its competences as enshrined in the Treaties and in the Charter, to protect the European democratic and pluralistic order and fundamental rights;
BN. whereas Parliament has repeatedly expressed its concerns about media freedom, pluralism and concentration in the EU and its Member States;
BO. whereas criticism of a number of provisions of Hungarian media legislation has been voiced by Parliament and the Commission, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of right to freedom of opinion and expression, and by a large number of international and national journalists' organisations, editors and publishers, NGOs active in the area of human rights and civil liberties, and Member States;
BP. whereas criticism has been levelled which relates mainly to the adoption of legislation under the parliamentary procedure of individual members' bills, the highly hierarchical structure of media supervision, the managerial authority of the Chairperson of the Regulatory Authority, the lack of provisions ensuring the independence of the Authority, the extensive supervisory and sanctioning power of the Authority, the considerable impact of certain provisions on the content of programming, the lack of media-specific regulation, the lack of transparency in the bidding process for licences, and the vagueness of norms potentially conducive to arbitrary application and enforcement;
BQ. whereas in its resolution of 10 March 2011 on media law in Hungary Parliament stressed that the Hungarian media law should be suspended as a matter of urgency and reviewed on the basis of the comments and proposals of the Commission, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, and whereas Parliament urged the Commission to continue the close monitoring and assessment of the conformity of the Hungarian media law, as amended, with European legislation, and particularly with the Charter;
BR. whereas the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe has stressed the need to amend the legislation in order to tackle encroachments on the freedom of the media such as prescriptions as to what information and coverage must emanate from all media providers, the imposition of penalties on the media, pre-emptive restraints on press freedom in the form of registration requirements and exceptions to the protection of journalists' sources, and whereas, regarding the independence and pluralism of the media, he has expressed the need to address issues such as weakened constitutional guarantees of pluralism, lack of independence in media regulatory bodies, lack of safeguards for the independence of public service broadcasting and the absence of an effective domestic remedy for media actors subject to decisions of the Media Council;
BS. whereas the Commission has raised concerns regarding the conformity of the Hungarian media law with the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the acquis communautaire in general, notably in relation to the obligation to offer balanced coverage applicable to all audiovisual media service providers, and has also questioned whether that law complies with the principle of proportionality and respects the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter, the country of origin principle and registration requirements, and whereas, in March 2011, following negotiations with the Commission, the Hungarian Parliament amended the law to address the points raised by the Commission;
BT. whereas the OSCE has expressed serious reservations regarding the material and territorial scope of Hungarian legislation, the politically homogeneous composition of the Media Authority and Media Council, the disproportionate penalties imposed, the lack of an automatic procedure for suspending penalties in the event of an appeal to the courts against a Media Authority ruling, the violation of the principle of the confidentiality of journalistic sources and the protection of family values;
BU. whereas the OSCE recommendations(7) included deleting the legal requirements on balanced coverage and other content prescriptions from the laws, safeguarding editorial independence, ensuring that different rules regulate different forms of media '' print, broadcast and online '', deleting registration requirements deemed excessive, ensuring that the regulatory body is independent and competent, ensuring objectivity and plurality in the process of appointment of organs governing the media sector, refraining from placing print media under the jurisdiction of the regulatory body and effectively encouraging self-regulation;
BV. whereas, despite the fact that the laws were amended in 2011 following negotiations with the European Commission and in May 2012 further to the decision of the Constitutional Court of December 2011 overturning several provisions as unconstitutional regarding the content regulation of the printed press, the protection of the sources of journalists, the requirement of data provision, and the institution of the Media and Telecommunications Commissioner, the OSCE Representative on freedom of the Media has deplored the fact that several amendments were introduced and adopted at short notice without consulting stakeholders and that fundamental elements in the legislation have not been improved, notably the appointment of the president and members of the Media Authority and Media Council, their power over content in the broadcast media, the imposition of high fines and the lack of safeguards on the financial and editorial independence of public broadcasters;
BW. Whereas, while welcoming the amendments to the media legislation adopted in March 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has highlighted the need to address remaining concerns pertaining to regulation of media content, insufficient guarantees to ensure the independence and impartiality of the Media Authority, excessive fines and other administrative sanctions, applicability of the media legislation to all types of media, including the press and the internet, registration requirements, and lack of sufficient protection of journalistic sources;
BX. whereas an analysis by Council of Europe experts(8) (which assessed compliance of the Media Acts as proposed for amendment in 2012 with Council of Europe standard-setting texts in the field of media and freedom of expression) recommended that specific provisions on registration and transparency, content regulation, obligations on news coverage, protection of sources, public service media and regulatory bodies be thoroughly revised, clarified or in some cases eliminated;
BY. whereas, further to the dialogue conducted with the EU and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe through an exchange of letters and expert meetings, further legal amendments were tabled in February 2013 in order to strengthen and guarantee the independence of the media regulatory bodies, notably in respect of the rules relating to the conditions of the appointment and election of the President of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority and the Media Council and concerning, respectively, the nomination procedure, the person making the appointment and repeated appointment;
BZ. whereas the Hungarian Authorities have stated their intention of reviewing the rules on the restrictions in political advertising during electoral campaigns; whereas the Hungarian Government is in consultation with the European Commission on the issue of political advertising; whereas, however, the Fourth Amendment imposes a broad and potentially vague prohibition on speech aimed at violating the dignity of groups, including the Hungarian nation, that may be used to arbitrarily interfere with freedom of expression and may have a chilling effect on journalists, and also on artists and others;
CA. whereas the National Media and Infocommunications Authority and the Media Council have not conducted assessments of the effects of the legislation on the quality of journalism, the degrees of editorial freedom and the quality of working conditions for journalists;
Respect of the rights of persons belonging to minorities
CB. whereas respect for the rights of persons belonging to minorities is explicitly recognised among the values referred to in Article 2 TEU and whereas the Union is committed to promoting these values and combating social exclusion, racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination;
CC. whereas the right not to suffer discrimination is a fundamental right enshrined in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights;
CD. whereas the responsibility of Member States to ensure that the fundamental rights of all are respected, irrespective of their ethnicity or belief, covers all levels of public administration as well as the law-enforcement authorities, and also implies actively promoting tolerance and firmly condemning phenomena such as racial violence and anti-Semitic and anti-Roma hate speech, particularly when it is expressed in official or public forums, including the Hungarian Parliament;
CE. whereas the lack of reaction by the law-enforcement authorities in cases of racially motivated crime(9) has resulted in mistrust of the police forces;
CF. whereas it is noteworthy that the Hungarian Parliament has enacted legislation in criminal and civil areas to combat racial incitement and hate speech;
CG. whereas, although intolerance against the members of Roma and Jewish communities is not a problem solely associated with Hungary, and whereas other Member States are faced with the same issue, recent events have raised concerns as to the increase in anti-Roma and anti-Semitic hate speech in Hungary;
CH. whereas the imposition of retroactive tax and pensions legislation has increased social vulnerability and poverty on a massive scale, a fact which is not only causing great uncertainty among the people, but also constitutes a violation of private ownership rights and undermines fundamental civil liberties;
Freedom of religionor beliefand recognition of churches
CI. whereas freedom of thought, conscience and religion as enshrined in Article 9 of the ECHR and Article 10 of the Charter is one of the foundations of a democratic society, and whereas the role of the State in this area should be that of a neutral and impartial guarantor of the right to exercise different religions, faiths and beliefs;
CJ. whereas the Act on Churches established a new legal regime for the regulation of religious associations and churches in Hungary, which imposed a set of requirements for the recognition of churches and made such recognition conditional on prior approval by the parliament by a two-thirds majority;
CK. whereas the obligation set out in the Act on Churches to obtain recognition by the parliament as a condition for the establishment of a church was deemed by the Venice Commission(10) to be a restriction of the freedom of religion;
CL. whereas as a result of the entry into force of retroactive provisions of the Act on Churches more than 300 registered churches lost their legal status of church;
CM. whereas, at the request of several religious communities and the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the Constitutional Court examined the constitutionality of the provisions of the Act on Churches and in its Decision 6/2013 of 26 February 2013 declared some of them unconstitutional and annulled them with retroactive effect;
CN. whereas in that Decision the Constitutional Court, while not questioning the right of the parliament to specify the substantive conditions for recognition as a church, considered that the recognition of church status by a vote in parliament might result in politically biased decisions, and whereas the Constitutional Court declared that the Act did not contain any obligation to provide detailed reasons for a decision which refuses recognition of church status, that no deadlines were specified for the parliament's actions and that the Act did not provide the possibility of effective legal remedy in cases of refusal or lack of a decision;
CO. whereas the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law, adopted two weeks after the decision of the Constitutional Court, amended Article VII of the Fundamental Law and elevated to the level of the constitution the power of the parliament to pass cardinal laws in order to recognise certain organisations engaged in religious activities as churches, thus overruling the Constitutional Court's decision;
The Fundamental Law ofHungaryand its implementation
1. Recalls that respect for legality, including a transparent, accountable and democratic process of enacting laws, including when adopting a Fundamental Law, and for a strong system of representative democracy based on free elections and respecting the rights of the opposition are key elements of the concepts of democracy and the rule of law as enshrined in Article 2 TEU, which provides that 'the Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail', and as proclaimed in the Preambles to both the Treaty on the European Union and the Charter; regrets that, from the point of view of protecting European core values, the EU institutions have not always managed in the past to live up to their own standards; maintains, therefore, that it falls to them in particular to take a stand in order to safeguard European fundamental rights as referred to in Article 2 TEU, both at Union level and in the Member States;
2. Firmly reiterates that, while the drafting and adoption of a new constitution fall within the scope of Member States' competences, the Member States and the EU have a responsibility to ensure that the constitutional processes and the content of constitutions comply with the commitments entered into by every Member State under the EU Accession Treaties, that is to say, with the common values of the Union, the Charter and the ECHR;
3. Regrets the fact that the process of drafting and adopting the Fundamental Law of Hungary lacked the transparency, openness, inclusiveness and, ultimately, the consensual basis that could be expected in a modern democratic constituent process, thus weakening the legitimacy of the Fundamental Law itself,
4. Takes note of the abovementioned Decision of 28 December 2012 of the Constitutional Court declaring that the Hungarian Parliament exceeded its legislative authority when it enacted a number of permanent and general rules in the Transitional Provisions of the Fundamental Law, inter alia, that 'it is the task and the responsibility of the constituent power to clear up the situation after the partial annulment. The Parliament shall make an evident and clear legal situation', while adding the requirement that this shall not mean the automatic insertion of the annulled provisions into the Fundamental Law without any distinction, because the parliament 'must review the regulatory subjects of the annulled non-transitional provisions, and it has to decide about which ones need repeated regulation, on what level of the sources of law. It is also the duty of the Parliament to select the provisions '' to be regulated repeatedly '' that need to be placed in the Fundamental Law, and the ones that require regulation in an Act of Parliament';
5. Strongly criticises the provisions of the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law, which undermine the supremacy of the Fundamental Law by reintroducing into its text a number of rules previously declared unconstitutional '' i.e. incompatible on procedural or substantive grounds with the Fundamental Law '' by the Constitutional Court;
6. Recalls that in its abovementioned Decision of 28 December 2012, the Constitutional Court gave a clear ruling on standards of constitutionality by declaring that 'in democratic States under the rule of law, constitutions have constant substantial and procedural standards and requirements. The substantial and procedural constitutional requirements shall not be set lower in the era of the Fundamental Law than they were at the time of the Constitution (Act). The requirements of a constitutional State under the rule of law continue to be constantly enforced requirements in the present and they are programmes for the future. The constitutional State under the rule of law is a system of constant values, principles and guarantees'; considers this clear-cut, dignified statement to be applicable to the European Union and all its Member States;
7. Recalls that the common Union values of democracy and the rule of law require a strong system of representative democracy based on free elections and respecting the rights of the opposition, and that, according to Article 3 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR, elections should guarantee the 'expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislator';
8. Considers that while the use of two-third majority laws is common in other Member States and has been a feature of the Hungarian constitutional and legal order since 1989, the extensive use of cardinal laws to set forth very specific and detailed rules undermines the principles of democracy and the rule of law, as it has enabled the current government, which enjoys the support of a qualified majority, to set in stone political choices with the consequence of making it more difficult for any new future government having only a simple majority in the parliament to respond to social changes, and thus of potentially diminishing the importance of new elections; considers that such use should be re-evaluated, in order to ensure that future governments and parliamentary majorities are allowed to legislate in a meaningful and comprehensive manner;
9. Considers that use of the individual members' bills procedure to implement the constitution (through cardinal laws) does not constitute a transparent, accountable and democratic legislative process, as it lacks the guarantees of ensuring meaningful social debate and consultation, and that it could run counter to Fundamental Law itself, which makes it an obligation for the government (and not individual members) to submit to the parliament the bills necessary for the implementation of the Fundamental Law;
10. Takes note of the opinion of the Venice Commission (No CDL-AD(2011)016) which 'welcomes the fact that this new Constitution establishes a constitutional order based on democracy, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights as underlying principles'; further takes note of the opinion of the Venice Commission (No CDL-AD(2012)001) according to which the adoption of a large amount of legislation in a very short time frame could explain why some of the new provisions do not comply with European standards; further takes note of the opinion of the Venice Commission on the Fourth Amendment to the Hungarian Fundamental Law (No CDL-AD(2013)012) stating that 'the Fourth Amendment itself brings about or perpetuates shortcomings in the constitutional system of Hungary';
11. Welcomes the fact that the Fundamental Law of Hungary reiterates and reaffirms the articles of the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and that Hungary, as the fourth country in the EU, in Article H recognises Hungarian sign language (HSL) as a fully fledged language and defends HSL as part of Hungarian culture;
12. Welcomes the fact that, in its Article XV, the Fundamental Law of Hungary specifically prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, gender, disability, language, religion, political or other views, national or social origin, or financial, birth or other circumstances, and stipulates that Hungary will adopt special measures to protect children, women, the elderly and persons living with disabilities, in accordance with Articles 20 to 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
Democratic system of checks and balances
13. Recalls that democracy and the rule of law require a separation of powers among independent institutions based on a properly functioning system of checks and balances and effective control of the conformity of legislation with the constitution;
14. Recalls that the constitutional majority raised the number of constitutional judges from 11 to 15 and abolished the requirement to reach agreement with the opposition regarding the election of constitutional judges; is concerned that as a result of these measures eight out of the current 15 constitutional judges were elected exclusively by the two-thirds majority (with one exception), including two new members who were appointed directly from their position as members of parliament.
15. Welcomes the introduction of a possibility for two new types of constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Court and understands that a democratic system that is founded on the rule of law does not necessarily need a constitutional court in order to function properly; recalls, however, Opinion No CDL-AD (2011)016 of the Venice Commission, which notes that in states that have opted for a constitutional court, this court should be entitled to assess the compliance of all laws with the human rights guaranteed in the constitution; considers, therefore, that the limitation of constitutional jurisdiction relating to the laws on the central budget and taxes weakens the institutional and procedural guarantees for the protection of a number of constitutional rights and for the control of the parliament's and the government's powers in the budgetary field;
16. Recalls that, as declared by the Constitutional Court in its Decision No 45/2012, 'Constitutional legality has not only procedural, formal and public law validity requirements, but also substantial ones [...]. As appropriate, the Constitutional Court may even examine the free enforcement and the constitutionalisation of the substantial requirements, guarantees and values of democratic States under the rule of law';
17. Considers that, in light of the systematic amending of the Fundamental Law at political will, the Constitutional Court can no longer fulfil its role as the supreme body of constitutional protection, especially since the Fourth Amendment explicitly prohibits the Court from reviewing constitutional amendments that contradict other constitutional requirements and principles;
18. Taking account of the right of a democratically elected parliament to adopt law in line with fundamental rights, with respect for political minorities, and with a democratically adequate and transparent procedure, and of the duty courts, both ordinary and constitutional, to safeguard the compatibility of the laws with the constitution, underlines the importance of the principle of separation of powers and a properly functioning system of checks and balances; is concerned in this connection about the shift of powers in constitutional matters to the advantage of the parliament and to the detriment of the Constitutional Court, which undermines severely the principle of separation of powers and a properly functioning system of checks and balances, which are key corollaries of the rule of law; welcomes in this regard the Eger joint statement of 16 May 2013 by the Presidents of the Hungarian and Romanian Constitutional Courts, P(C)ter Paczolay and Augustin Zegrean, stressing that constitutional courts bear a special responsibility in countries ruled by a two-thirds majority;
19. Is also extremely concerned about those provisions of the Fourth Amendment which repeal 20 years of constitutional jurisprudence, containing an entire system of founding principles and constitutional requirements, including any potential case law affecting the application of EU law and of European human rights law; notes that the Court already used its previous decisions as a source of interpretation; is concerned, however, at the fact that other courts may not be able to base their decisions upon the previous case law of the Constitutional Court;
20. Is also concerned about the conformity with EU law of the provision of the Fourth Amendment which enables the Hungarian Government to impose a special tax in order to implement EU Court of Justice judgments entailing payment obligations when the state budget does not have sufficient funding available and when the public debt exceeds half of the gross domestic product; takes note of the ongoing dialogue between the Hungarian Government and the European Commission on the issue;
21. Criticises the accelerated process for enacting important laws, as it undermines the rights of the opposition parties to be effectively involved in the legislative process, thus limiting their scrutiny of the majority's and the government's action and, ultimately, negatively affecting the system of checks and balances;
22. Recalls that the independence of data protection authorities is guaranteed by Article 16 TFEU and Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights;
23. Stresses that protection against removal from office during the term of office is an essential element of the requirement for independence of national data protection authorities under EU law;
24. Points out that the Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Hungary over the legality of the termination of the mandate of the former Commissioner for Data Protection, as regards the adequate independence of such body, which case is currently pending before the European Court of Justice;
25. Deplores the fact that the abovementioned institutional changes resulted in a clear weakening of the systems of checks and balances required by the rule of law and the democratic principle of the separation of powers;
Independenceof the judiciary
26. Recalls that independence of the judiciary is required by Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and is an essential requirement of the democratic principle of the separation of powers derived from Article 2 TEU;
27. Recalls that the Constitutional Court, in its abovementioned Decision 33/2012, described the independence of the judiciary and judges as an achievement of the historical constitution of Hungary, when it declared that the 'principle of judicial independence, with all of its elements, is an achievement beyond doubt. Therefore the Constitutional Court establishes that judicial independence, and the resulting principle of irremovability, is not only a normative rule of the Fundamental Law, but also an achievement of the historical constitution. Thus it is an interpreting principle obligatory to everybody, based on the provisions of the Fundamental Law, and which is to be applied also in the course of exploring other potential contents of the Fundamental Law'(11);
28. Stresses that the effective safeguarding of the independence of the judiciary forms the basis of democracy in Europe and is a prerequisite for consolidating mutual trust between the judicial authorities of the various Member States and, in consequence, smooth cross-border cooperation in the common area of justice, based on the principle of mutual recognition as enshrined in Articles 81 TFEU (civil matters) and 82 TFEU (criminal matters);
29. Regrets the fact that the numerous measures adopted '' as well as some ongoing reforms '' do not provide sufficient assurances of constitutional safeguards as to the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the Constitutional Court of Hungary;
30. Considers that the premature termination of the term of office of the Supreme Court's President violates the guarantee of security of tenure, which is a key element of the independence of the judiciary;
31. Welcomes the abovementioned Decision 33/2012 of the Constitutional Court declaring the compulsory termination of the service of judges at the age of 62 unconstitutional, as well as the abovementioned decision of the Court of Justice of the EU of 6 November 2012, which held that the radical lowering of the retirement age of judges in Hungary constitutes unjustified discrimination on grounds of age and is therefore in breach of Council Directive 2000/78/EC;
32. Welcomes the amendments to Act CLXI of 2011 on the organisation and administration of courts of Hungary and Act CLXII of 2011 on the legal status and remuneration of judges of Hungary, adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 2 July 2012, which address many of the concerns expressed in the European Parliament's resolution of 16 February 2012 and by the Venice Commission in its opinion;
33. Regrets, however, that not all the recommendations of the Venice Commission have been implemented, in particular as regards the need to limit discretionary powers of the President of the National Judicial Office in the context of the transfer of cases, which potentially affect the right to a fair trial and the right of a lawful judge; takes note of the expression of intent by the Hungarian Government to review the system of transfer of cases; believes that the recommendations of the Venice Commission in this regard should be implemented;
34. Welcomes the adoption of Act XX of 2013 on the legislative amendments relating to the upper age limit applicable in certain judicial legal relations, which sets the retirement age of judges at 65 at the end of a transitional period of 10 years, and arranges for the reinstatement of those judges unlawfully dismissed;
35. Regrets, however, that in the case of presiding judges, Act XX of 2013 provides for their reinstatement in their original executive posts only if these judicial positions are still vacant, with the consequence that only a few unlawfully dismissed judges are guaranteed to be reinstated in exactly the same position with the same duties and responsibilities they held before their dismissal;
36. Welcomes the Commission's proposal for a permanent scoreboard on justice in all 27 EU Member States as put forward by Vice-President Reding, which shows that safeguarding the independence of the judiciary is a general concern of the EU; underlines the fact that in some Member States serious concerns might be raised on these issues; calls for an enlargement of the justice scoreboard also to cover criminal justice, fundamental rights, the rule of law and democracy, as already requested;
37. Acknowledges the professionalism and dedication of the Hungarian judicial community and its commitment to the rule of law, and recalls that since the start of the democratic process in Hungary the Constitutional Court has been recognised as an outstanding constitutional body throughout Europe and the world;
The electoral reform
38. Recalls that the redrawing of electoral districts, the adoption of the Act on the election of members of parliament of Hungary and the electoral procedural law considerably change the legal and institutional framework for the next elections due in 2014, and therefore regrets that these laws were adopted unilaterally by the ruling parties, with no broad consultation of the opposition.
39. Is concerned that in the present political environment the current provisions for the procedure to appoint the members of the National Election Committee do not adequately guarantee balanced representation and the committee's independence;
40. Welcomes the fact that the Hungarian authorities requested the opinion of the Venice Commission on the Act on the Election of Members of Parliament of Hungary on 20 January 2012; considers however that a comprehensive analysis is needed in order to evaluate the fundamentally changed electoral landscape.
41. Welcomes the fact that Act XXXVI of 2013 on the election procedure in Hungary, specifically Article 42, prescribes that, upon request, people with disabilities must be provided with instructions in braille, relevant information in easy-to-read form, voting samples in braille at polls, full accessibility of polls, including particular attention to the needs of the wheelchair users; in addition, on the basis of Article 50 of the abovementioned Act, disabled voters can ask to be registered at another, more accessible, polling station in order to cast their votes in the given constituency, in accordance with the obligation to provide at least one fully accessible polling station in every constituency laid down in Article 81;
42. Acknowledges the efforts of the Hungarian authorities that led to legislative changes aimed at addressing a number of the shortcomings identified in order to improve media legislation and bring it into line with EU and Council of Europe standards;
43. Welcomes the continuing constructive dialogue with international actors, and stresses that the cooperation between the Council of Europe and the Hungarian Government has borne tangible results, as reflected in Act XXXIII of 2013, which addresses some of the concerns previously highlighted in the legal assessments of media legislation, notably in relation to the appointment and election procedures of the presidents of the Media Authority and the Media Council; recalls, however, that there are still concerns regarding the independence of the media authority;
44. Expresses concern at the effects of the provision of the Fourth Amendment banning political advertising in the commercial media since, although the stated aim of this provision is to reduce political campaign costs and create equal opportunities for the parties, it jeopardises the provision of balanced information; takes note that the Hungarian Government is in consultation with the European Commission on the issue of the rules on political advertising; takes note that restrictions also exist in other European countries; takes note of the opinion of the Venice Commission on the Fourth amendment to the Hungarian Fundamental Law (No CDL-AD(2013) 012), which states that "limits on political advertising have to be seen against the legal background of the particular Member State" and that "the prohibition of any political advertising in commercial media services, which are more widely used in Hungary than the public service media, will deprive the opposition of an important chance to air their views effectively and thus to counterweigh the dominant position of the government in the media coverage";
45. Reiterates its call on the Hungarian authorities to take action in order to make or commission regular proactive assessments of the impact of legislation on the media environment (reduction in the quality of journalism, instances of self-censorship, restriction of editorial freedom and erosion of the quality of working conditions and job security for journalists);
46. Deplores the fact that the creation of the state-owned Hungarian News Agency (MTI) as the single news provider for public service broadcasters, while all major private broadcasters are expected to have their own news service, has meant it has a virtual monopoly on the market, as most of its news items are freely available; recalls the recommendation of the Council of Europe to eliminate the obligation on public broadcasters to use the national news agency, as it constitutes an unreasonable and unfair restriction on the plurality of news provision;
47. Notes that the national competition authority needs to make regular assessments of the media environments and markets, highlighting potential threats to pluralism;
48. Stresses that measures to regulate the access of media outlets to the market through broadcast licensing and authorising procedures, rules on the protection of state, national or military security and public order and rules on public morality should not be abused for purposes of imposing political or partisan control or censorship on the media, and underlines the fact that a proper balance needs to be ensured in this respect;
49. Is concerned that public service broadcasting is controlled by an extremely centralised institutional system, which takes the real operational decisions without public scrutiny; stresses that biased and opaque tendering practices and the biased information put out by the public-service broadcasting that reaches a wide audience distort the media market; underlines the fact that, in line with Protocol No 29 to the Lisbon Treaty (on the System of the Public Broadcasting in the Members States), the system of public broadcasting in the Member States is directly related to the democratic, social and cultural needs of each society and to the need to preserve media pluralism;
50. Recalls that content regulations should be clear, allowing citizens and media companies to foresee in which cases they will be infringing the law and to determine the legal consequences of possible violations; notes with concern that, in spite of such detailed content regulations, recent public anti-Roma stances have so far gone unpunished by Hungary's Media Authority, and calls for balanced application of the law;
Rights of persons belonging to minorities
51. Notes that the Hungarian Parliament has enacted legislation in criminal and civil areas to combat racial incitement and hate speech; considers that legislative measures are an important starting point to achieve the goal of creating a society free from intolerance and discrimination throughout Europe, as concrete measures can only be built upon firm legislation; points out, however, that legislation needs to be actively implemented;
52. Underlines the fact that the authorities in all Member States have a positive obligation to act to avoid violation of the rights of persons belonging to minorities, cannot remain neutral, and should take the necessary legal, educational and political measures when faced with such violations; notes the 2011 amendment to the Penal Code to prevent campaigns by extremist groups to intimidate Roma communities, threatening with up to three years' imprisonment the 'provocative unsocial behaviour' which induces fear in a member of a national, ethnic, racial or religious community; acknowledges the role of the Hungarian Government in launching the European Framework of National Roma Inclusion Strategy during its EU presidency in 2011;
53. Notes with concern repeated changes to the legal order restricting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, for instance by seeking to exclude same-sex couples and their children, as well as other varied family structures, from the definition of 'family' in the Fundamental Law; stresses that this runs counter to recent European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence and fuels a climate of intolerance vis- -vis LGBT people;
54. Welcomes the insertion of provisions in the Hungarian Constitution by the Fourth Amendment stating that "Hungary shall strive to provide every person with decent housing and access to public services" and that the "State and local governments shall also contribute to creating the conditions of decent housing by striving to provide accommodation to all homeless people"; expresses concern, however, at the fact that "in order to protect public order, public security, public health and cultural values, an Act of Parliament or a local ordinance may declare illegal staying in a public area as a permanent abode with respect to a specific part of such public area'', which could lead to homelessness being addressed through the criminal law; recalls that the Hungarian Constitutional Court had judged that similar measures contained in the Petty Offences Act were unconstitutional as contrary to human dignity;
Freedom of religionor beliefand recognition of churches
55. Notes with concern that the changes made to the Fundamental Law by the Fourth Amendment give the parliament the power to recognise, by way of cardinal laws and without a constitutional duty to justify a refusal of recognition, certain organisations engaged in religious activities as churches, which might negatively affect the duty of the state to remain neutral and impartial in its relations with the various religions and beliefs;
56. Reaffirms that it attaches the utmost importance to respect of the principle of equality between all Member States and refuses the application of double standards in the treatment of Member States; stresses that similar situations or legal frameworks and provisions should be assessed in the same way; takes the view that the pure fact of changing and adopting laws cannot be considered incompatible with the values of the Treaties; calls on the Commission to identify instances of incompatibility with EU law and for the European Court of Justice to adjudicate any such case;
57. Concludes '' for the reasons explained above '' that the systemic and general trend of repeatedly modifying the constitutional and legal framework in very short time frames, and the content of such modifications, are incompatible with the values referred to in Article 2 TEU, Article 3, paragraph 1, and Article 6 TEU, and deviate from the principles referred to in Article 4, paragraph 3, TEU; considers that '' unless corrected in a timely and adequate manner '' this trend will result in a clear risk of a serious breach of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU;
58. Reaffirms that its present resolution is not only about Hungary, but inseparably about the European Union as a whole, and its democratic reconstruction and development after the fall of the 20th century totalitarianisms. It is about the European family, its common values and standards, its inclusiveness and its capacity to engage in dialogue. It is about the need to implement Treaties which all Member States have voluntarily acceded to. It is about the mutual help and mutual trust that the Union, its citizens and its Member States need to have if these Treaties are to be not just words on paper, but the legal basis for a true, just and open Europe respecting fundamental rights;
59. Shares the idea of a Union which is not only a 'union of democracies' but also a 'Union of Democracy', based upon pluralistic societies where respect for human rights and the rule of law prevail;
60. Reaffirms that while in times of economic and social crisis one may yield to the temptation to disregard constitutional principles, the credibility and robustness of constitutional institutions plays a pivotal role in underpinning economic, fiscal and social policies and social cohesion;
Appeal to all Member States
61. Calls on the Member States to comply without delay with their Treaty obligations to respect, guarantee, protect and promote the Union's common values, which is an indispensable condition for respecting democracy, and thus the substance of Union citizenship, and for building a culture of mutual trust enabling effective cross-border cooperation and a genuine area of freedom, security and justice;
62. Considers that it is the moral and legal duty of all Members States, as well as of the Union institutions, to defend the European values enshrined in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in the European Convention on Human Rights to which every Member State is a signatory and to which the EU will soon accede;
63. Calls on the national parliaments to enhance their role in monitoring compliance with fundamental values and to denounce any risks of deterioration of these values that may occur within the EU borders, with a view to maintaining the credibility of the Union vis- -vis third countries, which is based on the seriousness with which the Union and its Member States take the values they have chosen as foundations;
64. Expects all Member States to take the necessary steps, particularly within the Council of the European Union, to contribute loyally to the promotion of the Union's values and to cooperate with Parliament and the Commission in monitoring their observance, especially in the framework of the 'Article 2 Trilogue' referred to in paragraph 85;
Appeal to the European Council
65. Reminds the European Council of its responsibilities within the framework of the area of freedom, liberty, security and justice;
66. Notes with disappointment that the European Council is the only EU political institution that has remained silent, while the Commission, Parliament, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and even the US Administration have voiced concerns over the situation in Hungary;
67. Considers that the European Council cannot remain inactive in cases where one of the Member States breaches fundamental rights or implements changes that may negatively affect the rule of law in that country, and therefore the rule of law in the European Union at large, in particular when mutual trust in the legal system and judicial cooperation may be put at risk, as this has a negative impact on the Union itself;
68. Invites the President of the European Council to inform Parliament of his assessment of the situation;
Recommendations to the Commission
69. Calls on the Commission as the guardian of the Treaties and as the body responsible for ensuring that Union law is correctly applied, under the supervision of the Court of Justice of the European Union:
'' to inform Parliament of its assessment of the Fourth Amendment to the Fundamental Law and its impact on cooperation within the EU;
'' to be determined in ensuring full compliance with the common fundamental values and rights set out in Article 2 TEU, as violations thereof undermine the very foundations of the Union and mutual trust among Member States;
'' to launch objective investigation and start infringement proceedings whenever it considers that a Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties and, in particular, is violating the rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU;
'' to avoid any double standards in the treatment of Member States, making sure that, in similar situations, all Member States are treated in a similar manner, thus fully respecting the principle of equality of the Member States before the Treaties;
'' to focus not only on specific infringements of EU law, to be remedied notably through Article 258 TFEU, but to respond appropriately to a systemic change in the constitutional and legal system and practice of a Member State where multiple and recurrent infringements unfortunately result in a state of legal uncertainty, which no longer meets the requirements of Article 2 TEU;
'' to adopt a more comprehensive approach to addressing any potential risks of serious breaching of fundamental values in a given Member State at an early stage and immediately to engage in a structured political dialogue with the relevant Member State and the other EU institutions ; this structured political dialogue should be coordinated at the highest political level of the Commission and have a clear impact on the full spectrum of negotiations between the Commission and the Member State concerned in the various EU fields;
'' to create '' as soon as risks of violations of Article 2 TEU are identified '' an 'Article 2 TEU/ Alarm Agenda', i.e. a Union values monitoring mechanism, to be dealt with by the Commission with exclusive priority and urgency, coordinated at the highest political level and taken fully into account in the various EU sectoral policies, until full compliance with Article 2 TEU is restored and any risks of violation thereof are defused, as also envisaged in the letter of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of four Member States raising with the President of the Commission the need to develop a new and more effective method of safeguarding fundamental values in order to place greater emphasis on promoting a culture of respect for the rule of law, taken into account by the Council conclusions on fundamental rights and rule of law and on the Commission 2012 Report on the Application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 6 and 7 June 2013;
'' to hold meetings at technical level with the services of the Member State concerned but not to conclude any negotiations in policy fields other than Article-2-TEU-related ones until full compliance with Article 2 TEU has been ensured;
'' to apply a horizontal approach involving all the Commission services concerned in order to ensure respect for the rule of law in all fields, including the economic and social sector ;
'' to implement and if necessary update its 2003 communication on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (COM(2003) 606) and to draw up a detailed proposal for a swift and independent monitoring mechanism and an early-warning system;
'' to regularly monitor the correct functioning of the European area of justice and to take action when the independence of the judiciary is put at risk in any Member State, with a view to avoiding the weakening of mutual trust among national judicial authorities, which would inevitably create obstacles to the correct application of the EU instruments on mutual recognition and cross-border cooperation;
'' to ensure that Member States guarantee correct implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights with respect to media pluralism and equal access to information;
'' to monitor the effective implementation of rules ensuring transparent and fair procedures for media funding and state advertising and sponsoring allocation, so as to guarantee that these do not cause interference with freedom of information and expression, pluralism or editorial lines taken by the media;
'' to take appropriate, timely, proportionate and progressive measures where concerns arise in relation to freedom of expression, information, media freedom and pluralism in the EU and the Member States on the basis of a detailed and careful analysis of the situation and of the problems to be solved and the best ways to address them;
'' to address these issues in the framework of the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive in order to improve cooperation between regulatory bodies of the Member States and the Commission, bringing forward as soon as possible a revision and amendment of the directive, and notably of its Articles 29 and 30;
'' to continue the dialogue with the Hungarian Government on the conformity with EU law of the new provision of the Fourth Amendment enabling the Hungarian Government to impose a special tax in order to implement EU Court of Justice judgments entailing payment obligations when the state budget does not have sufficient funding available and when the public debt exceeds half of the gross domestic product, and to suggest adequate measures to prevent what may result in a breach of sincere cooperation as enshrined in Article 4(3) TEU;
70. Reminds the Commission that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and the European Union's forthcoming accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, reaffirm a new architecture for European Union law, a structure with human rights more than ever at its heart, thus conferring on the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, greater responsibilities in this area;
Recommendations to the Hungarian Authorities
71. Urges the Hungarian authorities to implement as swiftly as possible all the measures the European Commission as the guardian of the treaties deems necessary in order to fully comply with EU law, fully comply with the decisions of the Hungarian Constitutional Court and implement as swiftly as possible the following recommendations, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe and other international bodies for the protection of the rule of law and fundamental rights, with a view to fully complying with the rule of law and its key requirements on the constitutional setting, the system of checks and balances and the independence of the judiciary, as well as on strong safeguards for fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, the media and religion or belief, protection of minorities, action to combat discrimination, and the right to property:
On the Fundamental Law:
'' to fully restore the supremacy of the Fundamental Law by removing from it those provisions previously declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court;
'' to reduce the recurrent use of cardinal laws in order to leave policy areas such as family, social, fiscal and budget matters to ordinary legislation and majorities;
'' to implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission and, in particular, to revise the list of policy areas requiring a qualified majority with a view to ensuring meaningful future elections;
'' to secure a lively parliamentary system which also respects opposition forces by allowing a reasonable time for a genuine debate between the majority and the opposition and for participation by the wider public in the legislative procedure;
'' to ensure the widest possible participation by all parliamentary parties in the constitutional process, even though the relevant special majority is held by the governing coalition alone;
On checks and balances:
'' to fully restore the prerogatives of the Constitutional Court as the supreme body of constitutional protection, and thus the primacy of the Fundamental Law, by removing from its text the limitations on the Constitutional Court's power to review the constitutionality of any changes to the Fundamental Law, as well as the abolition of two decades of constitutional case law; to restore the right of the Constitutional Court to review all legislation without exception, with a view to counterbalancing parliamentary and executive actions and ensuring full judicial review; such a judicial and constitutional review may be exerted in different ways in different Member States, depending on the specificities of each national constitutional history, but once established, a Constitutional Court '' like the Hungarian one, which after the fall of the communist regime has rapidly built a reputation among Supreme Courts in Europe '' should not be subject to measures aimed at reducing its competences and thus undermining the rule of law;
'' to restore the possibility for the judicial system to refer to the case law issued before the entry into force of the Fundamental Law, in particular in the field of fundamental rights(12);
'' to strive for consensus when electing the members of the Constitutional Court, with meaningful involvement of the opposition, and to ensure that the members of the court are free from political influence;
'' to restore the prerogatives of the parliament in the budgetary field and thus secure the full democratic legitimacy of budgetary decisions by removing the restriction of parliamentary powers by the non-parliamentary Budget Council;
'' to provide clarifications on how the Hungarian authorities intend to remedy the premature termination of the term of office of senior officials with a view to securing the institutional independence of the data protection authority;
On the independence of the judiciary:
'' to fully guarantee the independence of the judiciary by ensuring that the principles of irremovability and guaranteed term of office of judges, the rules governing the structure and composition of the governing bodies of the judiciary and the safeguards on the independence of the Constitutional Court are enshrined in the Fundamental Law;
'' to promptly and correctly implement the abovementioned decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 6 November 2012 and of the Hungarian Constitutional Court, by enabling the dismissed judges who so wish to be reinstated in their previous positions, including those presiding judges whose original executive posts are no longer vacant;
'' to establish objective selection criteria, or to mandate the National Judicial Council to establish such criteria, with a view to ensuring that the rules on the transfer of cases respect the right to a fair trial and the principle of a lawful judge;
'' to implement the remaining recommendations laid down in the Venice Commission's Opinion No CDL-AD(2012)020 on the cardinal acts on the judiciary that were amended following the adoption of Opinion CDL-AD(2012)001;
On the electoral reform:
- to invite the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ ODIHR to carry out a joint analysis of the comprehensively changed legal and institutional framework of the elections and to invite the ODIHR for a Needs Assessment Mission and a long and short term election observation.
'' to ensure balanced representation within the National Election Committee;
On the media and pluralism:
'' to fulfil the commitment to further discuss cooperation activities at expert level on the more long-term perspective of the freedom of the media, building on the most important remaining recommendations of the 2012 legal expertise of the Council of Europe;
'' to ensure timely and close involvement of all relevant stakeholders, including media professionals, opposition parties and civil society, in any further review of this legislation, which regulates such a fundamental aspect of the functioning of a democratic society, and in the process of implementation;
'' to observe the positive obligation arising from European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence under Article 10 ECHR to protect freedom of expression as one of the preconditions for a functioning democracy;
'' to respect, guarantee, protect and promote the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information, as well as media freedom and pluralism, and to refrain from developing or supporting mechanisms that threaten media freedom and journalistic and editorial independence;
'' to make sure that objective, legally binding procedures and mechanisms are in place for the selection and appointment of heads of public media, management boards, media councils and regulatory bodies, in line with the principles of independence, integrity, experience and professionalism, representation of the entire political and social spectrum, legal certainty and continuity;
'' to provide legal guarantees regarding full protection of the confidentiality-of-sources principle and to strictly apply related European Court of Human Rights case law;
'' to ensure that rules relating to political information throughout the audiovisual media sector guarantee fair access to different political competitors, opinions and viewpoints, in particular on the occasion of elections and referendums, allowing citizens to form their own opinions without undue influence from one dominant opinion-forming power;
On respect for fundamental rights, including therights of persons belonging to minorities:
'' to take, and continue with, positive actions and effective measures to ensure that the fundamental rights of all persons, including persons belonging to minorities and homeless persons, are respected and to ensure their implementation by all competent public authorities; when reviewing the definition of 'family', to take into account the legislative trend in Europe to broaden the scope of the definition of family and the negative impact of a restricted definition of family on the fundamental rights of those who will be excluded by the new and more restrictive definition;
'' to take a new approach, finally assuming its responsibilities towards homeless '' and therefore vulnerable '' people, as set out in the international treaties on human rights to which Hungary is a signatory, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and thus to promote fundamental rights rather than violating them by including in its Fundamental Law provisions that criminalise homeless people;
'' calls on the Hungarian Government to do all in its power to strengthen the mechanism for social dialogue and comprehensive consultation and to guarantee the rights associated with this;
'' calls on the Hungarian Government to increase its efforts to integrate the Roma and to lay down targeted measures to ensure their protection. Racist threats directed at the Roma must be unequivocally and resolutely repelled;
On freedom of religionor beliefand recognition of churches:
'' to establish clear, neutral and impartial requirements and institutional procedures for the recognition of religious organisations as churches, which respect the duty of the State to remain neutral and impartial in its relations with the various religions and beliefs and to provide effective means of redress in cases of non-recognition or lack of a decision, in line with the constitutional requirements set out in the abovementioned Decision 6/2013 of the Constitutional Court;
Recommendations to the EU institutions onsetting up a new mechanism to enforce Article 2 TEUeffectively
72. Reiterates the urgent need to tackle the so-called 'Copenhagen dilemma', whereby the EU remains very strict with regard to compliance with the common values and standards on the part of candidate countries but lacks effective monitoring and sanctioning tools once they have joined the EU;
73. Firmly requests that Member States be regularly assessed on their continued compliance with the fundamental values of the Union and the requirements of democracy and the rule of law, avoiding any double standards and bearing in mind that such an assessment must be founded on a commonly accepted European understanding of constitutional and legal standards; firmly requests, furthermore, that similar situations in Member States should be monitored in accordance with the same pattern, since otherwise the principle of equality of the Member States before the Treaties is not respected;
74. Calls for closer cooperation between Union institutions and other international bodies, particularly the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission, and for use to be made of their expertise in upholding the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law;
75. Acknowledges and welcomes the initiatives undertaken, the analysis conducted and the recommendations issued by the Council of Europe, in particular its Secretary General, Parliamentary Assembly, Commissioner for Human Rights and the Venice Commission;
76. Calls on all the EU institutions to launch a joint reflection and debate '' as also requested by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland in their abovementioned letter to the Commission President '' on how to equip the Union with the necessary tools to fulfil its Treaty obligations on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, while avoiding any risks of applying double standards among its Member States;
77. Considers that a future revision of the Treaties should lead to a better distinction between an initial phase, aimed at assessing any risks of a serious breach of the values referred in Article 2 TEU, and a more efficient procedure in a subsequent phase, where action would need to be taken to address actual serious and persistent violation of those values;
78. Given the current institutional mechanism laid down in Article 7 TEU, reiterates the calls it made, in its resolution of 12 December 2012 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2010-2011), for the establishment of a new mechanism to ensure compliance by all Member States with the common values enshrined in Article 2 TEU, and the continuity of the 'Copenhagen criteria'; this mechanism could assume the form of a 'Copenhagen Commission' or high-level group, a 'group of wise men' or an Article 70 TFEU evaluation, and build up on the reforming and strengthening of the mandate of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, and on the framework of a strengthened Commission-Council-European Parliament-Member States dialogue on measures to be taken;
79. Reiterates that the setting up of such a mechanism could involve a rethinking of the mandate of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, which should be enhanced to include regular monitoring of Member States' compliance with Article 2 TEU; recommends that such a 'Copenhagen high-level group' or any such mechanism should build on and cooperate with existing mechanisms and structures; recalls the role of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, which could bring together the highly valuable work of the various existing Council of Europe monitoring bodies and the Agency's own data and analysis in order to carry out independent, comparative and regular assessments of the EU Member States' compliance with Article 2 TEU.
80. Recommends that this mechanism should:
'' be independent from political influence, as all European Union mechanisms which relate to monitoring Member States should be, as well as swift and effective;
'' operate in full cooperation with other international bodies as regards the protection of fundamental rights and the rule of law;
'' regularly monitor respect for fundamental rights, the state of democracy and the rule of law in all Member States, while fully respecting national constitutional traditions;
'' conduct such monitoring uniformly in all Member States to avoid any risks of double standards among its Member States;
'' warn the EU at an early stage about any risks of deterioration of the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU;
'' issue recommendations to the EU institutions and Member States on how to respond and remedy any deterioration of the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU;
81. Instructs its committee responsible for the protection within the territory of the Union of citizens' rights, human rights and fundamental rights, and for determining clear risks of a serious breach by a Member State of the common principles, to submit a detailed proposal in the form of a report to the Conference of Presidents and to the Plenary;
82. Instructs its committee responsible for the protection within the territory of the Union of citizens' rights, human rights and fundamental rights, and for determining clear risks of a serious breach by a Member State of the common principles, as well as its committee responsible for the determination of the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the principles common to the Member States, to follow the development of the situation in Hungary;
83. Intends to convene a Conference on this issue before the end of 2013 that will bring together representatives from the Member States, the European institutions, the Council of Europe, national Constitutional and Supreme Courts, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights;
84. Calls on the Hungarian authorities to inform Parliament, the Commission, the Presidencies of the Council and of the European Council, and the Council of Europe regarding implementation of the measures requested in paragraph 71;
85. Invites the Commission and the Council to each designate a representative who, together with Parliament's rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs ('Article 2 Trilogue'), will carry out an assessment of the information sent by the Hungarian authorities on implementation of the recommendations contained in paragraph 71, as well as follow-up on future possible modifications to ensure compliance with Article 2 TEU;
86. Asks the Conference of Presidents to assess the opportuneness of resorting to mechanisms foreseen by the Treaty, including Article 7(1) TEU, in case the replies from the Hungarian authorities appear not to comply with the requirements of Article 2 TEU;
87. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Parliament, President and Government of Hungary, to the Presidents of the Constitutional Court and the Kºria, to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the candidate countries, the Fundamental Rights Agency, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.
(1)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0053.
(2)OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 154.
(3)OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 17.
(4)OJ C 169 E, 15.6.2012, p. 49.
(5)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0500.
(6)These laws include cardinal laws all provisions of which require a two-thirds majority, cardinal laws specific provisions of which have to be adopted by simple majority and acts the specific provisions of which require a two-thirds majority of the Members of Parliament present.
(7)Legal analysis sent to the Hungarian Government on 28 February 2011 http://www.osce.org/fom/75990
See also the analysis and assessment of September 2010: http://www.osce.org/fom/71218
(8)Expertise by Council of Europe experts on Hungarian media legislation: ACT CIV of 2010 on the freedom of the press and the fundamental rules on media content and ACT CLXXXV of 2010 on media services and mass media, 11 May 2012.
(9)Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (A/HRC/20/33/Add. 1)
(10)Venice Commission Opinion 664/2012 of 19 March 2012 on Act CCVI of 2011 on the right to freedom of conscience and religion and the legal status of churches, denominations and religious communities of Hungary (CDL-AD(2012)004).
(11)Point (80) of the decision.
(12)See Working Document No 5.
HUNGARY-Article 7 TEU: a mechanism to protect EU values | European Parliamentary Research Service
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:51
Incorporated into EU law by the Treaty of Amsterdam, Article 7 TEU is considered to have been both a gesture prompted by the future wave of EU enlargement and an attempt to tackle the discrepancy between the democratic model promoted by the EU in its external relations and its modest capacity to intervene whenever democratic values are at risk of being violated within one of its Member States. Following the notorious ''Haider affair'', the provisions of Article 7 TEU have been extended to situations when there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of EU values. This new paragraph added with the Treaty of Nice therefore enables '' besides the reactive approach of which Article 7 initially consisted exclusively '' a prevention mechanism aiming at facilitating EU intervention before the breaches actually occur.
@ Claude Wangen / Fotolia
The intention to use the Article 7 TEU mechanism has come about on several occasions. The French Roma expulsions, the Romanian political struggle between President BÄsescu and Prime Minister Ponta and its consequences are amongst the most relevant examples. Furthermore, the European Parliament has recently highlighted its willingness to activate this democracy protection mechanism if the Hungarian government does not take action to restore the rule of law in Hungary. Nevertheless, the political unwillingness to use Article 7 leaves several questions unanswered: what are the precise EU values protected by this mechanism? What is the threshold for a measure or a non-measure to classify as serious breach?, etc.
This Library Keysource is a collection of documents which examine the evolution of article 7 TEU's provisions, investigate the several events that could have led to their activation and tackle the different article 7 elements that remain ambiguous or need further clarification.
For more information on this topic you may wish to refer to the Library Briefing: Breach of values by a Member State / Eva-Maria Poptcheva, 2013
OverviewEuropean Union Law / Alina Kaczorowska, London, Routledge, 2011, pp. 67-69. Available in the Library at shelfmark: S 12.04.KAC.11
Brief section explaining the steps and the actors involved in the suspension procedure set out in Article 7 TEU. While thoroughly analysing the first two paragraphs of this article, the author focuses both on the early warning mechanism, introduced by the Treaty of Nice, and on the actions MS can take in case serious and persistent breaches of the values on which the EU is founded are determined.
AnalysisAdding a bite to a bark? A story of Article 7, the EU Enlargement, and J¶rg Haider / Wojciech Sadurski, Legal studies research paper, no. 10/01, 2010, 37p. You have to log in '' for free '' to read the full article
Working paper tracing Article 7 TEU's origins and highlighting it as part of the institutional reform anticipating the two Eastern enlargement waves. Identified as a priority by the 1995 Reflection Group '' whose work prepared the 1996 IGC leading to the Treaty of Amsterdam '' the objective of ''enabling the Union to work better and preparing it for enlargement'' suggests the EU's transition to more than just a common market, namely a unique international structure sharing common values.
Les valeurs de l'Union europ(C)enne / Jol Rideau in Revue des affaires europ(C)ennes, no. 2, 2012, pp. 329-349.
This article aims at identifying and examining EU values and their protection by the EU and national courts. Composed of a chapter dedicated to each of the following values: human dignity, equality, freedom, democracy, rule of law, respect of human rights; this paper also concentrates on the process of constitutionalisation of the EU.
The EU's governance transfer / Vera van H¼llen and Tanja A. B¶rzel, Working paper '' Freie Universit¤t Berlin, 2013, 22p.
The authors focus on the contrast between the EU's external commitment to protect and promote democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the rather weak internal instruments designed to respond to breaches of democratic standards and human rights in EU Member States. They conclude by noting that the governance transfer in terms of protection of EU values at internal level is more modest than the governance standards it manages to transfer in the context of its exterior relations.
Protecting the fundamentals: article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union and beyond / Cesare Pinelli, Foundation for European Progressive Studies, 2012, 20p.
This paper tackles the three different alternatives the EU has at its disposal in order to intervene in cases of EU values violations: citizens' applications before their national courts, which might refer to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling; infringement actions of the European Commission and monitoring mechanisms aimed at enhancing Article 7 TEU's mechanism.
Safeguarding democracy inside the EU: Brussels and the future of liberal order / Jan-Werner M¼ller, Transatlantic academy paper series, 2013, pp. 17-18.
According to Jan-Werner M¼ller, professor of politics at Princeton University, Article 7 TEU is more a political rather than a judicial instrument. In addition, he notes the contradiction between the possibility of applying a sanction mechanism and other EU core principles such as mutual trust and mutual accommodation.
Past and present debates on the possible usage of Article 7 TEU's mechanismAustria
Le contr´le par l'Union europ(C)enne du respect de la d(C)mocratie et des droits de l'homme par ses Etats membres : propos de l'Autriche / Emmanuelle Bribosia, Olivier de Schutter, Thierry Ronse and Anne Weyembergh in Journal de droit europ(C)en, no. 3, 2000, pp. 61-65.
This article gives a very good overview of the possibilities envisaged by the scholars in order to tackle Austrian threats to the EU's democratic values at the time when the Freedom Party ('FP') and J¶rg Haider rose to power.
Austria and the European Union '' the report of the ''three wise men'' / Alison Duxbury in Melbourne Journal of International Law, vol. 1, no. 1, 2000, pp. 169-174.
This article includes a thorough analysis of the report submitted in September 2000 examining the Austrian Government's commitment to EU values. J¶rg Haider's Freedom Party ('FP') '' a right wing populist party '' having entered the Austrian Government, it faced widespread criticism related to the discriminatory nature of their proposed reform of immigration policy. It is noteworthy that this report favours the introduction of a prevention mechanism aiming at moving away from a simple reactive approach. This alert procedure is currently defined by Article 7(1) and was introduced by the Treaty of Nice.
L'affaire des Roms: a challenge to the EU's area of freedom, security and justice / Sergio Carrera and Ana¯s Faure Atger, CEPS, 2010, 21p.
Criticising the ex post nature of the measures that can be adopted under Article 7 TEU, the authors of this paper also highlight the lack of a proper monitoring mechanism which would prevent a situation like the Roma expulsions in France.
Motion for resolution on the situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary / European Parliament, July 2013
EP motion for resolution adopted in July 2013 calling on Hungary to reform its Constitution to bring it in line with EU norms and values. Point 86 of the motion for resolution shows the EP's intention to activate Article 7 TEU's mechanism in case the Hungarian authorities do not comply with the Union's values.
Protecting democracy and the rule of law in the European Union: the Hungarian challenge / Bojan Bugaric, 2013, 25p. You have to log in '' for free '' to read the full article
Article discussing the possibility of invoking Article 7 TEU in order to intervene in Hungary's controversial, yet domestic, affairs. Focusing on the Hungarian case, the author also tackles the political legitimacy of European political integration. Furthermore, he analyses whether the provisions of the new Hungarian Constitution can be considered as clear risks of a serious breach of EU values, as defined by Article 7(1).
Romania's democracy in reverse gear '' en garde, EU! / Corina Stratulat and Paul Ivan, European Policy Center Commentary, 2012, 2p.
EPC Commentary highlighting MEP Markus Ferber's threats to initiate proceedings in order to suspend Romania's vote in the Council as a consequence of the undemocratic implications of the political struggle between President Traian Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta.
Stakeholder viewsEuropean Parliament
Working document on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union in 2012 / European Parliament, 2013
With this working document the EP highlights the fact that 2012 was marked not only by an economic, but also by a democratic crisis in some EU Member States. Furthermore, MEPs mention the lack of political will to activate article 7 TEU's mechanism and the necessity to create a new mechanism in order to ensure the respect of EU values.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union '' Respect for and promotion of the values on which the Union is based / European Commission, 2003
With this Communication, the European Commission greeted the modifications brought up by the Nice treaty to Article 7 TEU. Interestingly, the Commission also insisted on the number of complaints it receives from European citizens underlining the fact that the latter interpret Article 7 TEU as a means of remedying the fundamental rights breaches they experience. In addition, this Communication includes clarifications about concepts such as: ''clear risk of a serious breach'', ''serious breach'' and ''persistent breach''.
State of the Union 2012 address / Jos(C) Manuel Dur£o Barroso, Plenary session of the European Parliament, Strasbourg 2012
The President of the European Commission notes threats to democratic principles present in some EU member states and regrets the limited number of instruments the EU has at its disposal to fight such phenomena. President Barroso sees Article 7 TEU as a ''nuclear weapon'' and pleads for an alternative between this sanction mechanism and the usage of ''soft power'' tools.
Amnesty International response to the European Commission Communication on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union / Amnesty International, 2003, 6p.
Amnesty International welcomed the Commission's communication and its commitment to monitoring and addressing breaches of fundamental rights in the EU but was particularly concerned by the conclusion that ''The Commission is convinced that in this Union of values it will not be necessary to apply penalties to Article 7 of the Union Treaty and Article 309 of the EC Treaty''.
Similar interational provisionsInternational mechanisms for protecting democracy / Theodore J. Piccone, Democracy Coalition Project, 2004, 31p.
While identifying and briefly analysing democracy protection mechanisms that exist in regional agreements around the world, the author also compares the key elements of democracy clauses and tries to offer a model of such clauses integrating the best practices in the field. The five elements that a democracy clause should contain according to Theodore Piccone are: the incorporation of democratic norms in the organisation's core mission, the nomination of an expert committee to monitor the respect of democratic principles; the clarification of the consequences in case of breach of democratic values; the institution of economic, trade and financial sanctions in such cases and the setting of a time frame within which the government concerned should restore democracy.
Hungary's Internet Tax: Continuing to undermine the country's democratic principles | European Public Affairs
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:50
In the past week, Hungary's government led by self-styled Prime Minister Viktor Orbn has been faced with one of the biggest challenges since his accession to power in 2010. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians took to the streets on Tuesday and last weekend to protest against the recently announced tax on Internet use '' a measure proposed by the Ministry of Economy, but initiated by Orbn himself. The Internet tax would see an introduction of a levy of some 150 forints (0.49 euros) for each downloaded gigabyte. While this is not the first unorthodox measure to shore up Hungary's stagnating economy, given the size of the revolt that it has generated among Hungarians, it would appear that the Fidesz government has this time shot itself in the foot. However, there are signs that plans for the tax will be dropped, with Orbn stating on radio that he plans to launch a public debate on Internet regulation in January 2015.
In the past few years, Hungary has become an awkward member of the European Union '' awkward for the rest of the EU and awkward internally, as numerous leading politicians on the political right have expressed their concerns with the alleged Brussels' meddling with national politics. The latest of such statements comes from the President of the Hungarian Parliament, Lszl" K¶v(C)r, who compared the EU to the Soviet Union and called on Brussels to stop dictating how Hungary should run its internal affairs. Nevertheless, the EU has expressed only very limited concern over the developments in the country, and while the European Parliament passed a Resolution on 3 July 2013 in which it found Hungary in breach of Article 2 TEU, no further measures have been taken.
Budapest has been criticized for its recent constitutional changes, which have, among other things, weakened checks and balances, and undermined the independence of the judiciary and unfairly reformed the electoral system. Furthermore, the government has been accused of using tax policies to curtail media freedom. One such example is the advertising levy imposed in August 2014, just before the last parliamentary elections. This measure alone has undermined the position of the privately owned RTL television channel, which, unlike the public service media, does not toe the government's line. The Commissioner for Digital Economy, Neelie Kroes, was very critical at the time and suggested that the measures were designed to ''wipe out democratic safeguards'' so that Fidesz could rule unchallenged.
Previously, the government had already imposed tax on the telecommunications sector, which is subject to a capped levy for every minute of voice connections and for every text sent. Seeing that many Hungarians have switched from more expensive conventional phone calls to calls via the Internet, the government has also come up with an idea to introduce a similar tax on Internet use. As of 2015, Internet service providers (ISPs) will pay 150 forints (0.49 euros) for every gigabyte used either by the companies themselves or their consumers. According to the EU Commission's estimates, streaming a film would cost an extra fifteen euros, while streaming a whole television series would mean a charge of whopping 254 euros. Many in Hungary fear that Internet companies will simply pass the buck onto consumers through higher charges. As a result, hundreds of thousands of them took to the streets to express their frustration. On Sunday and Tuesday, thousands of supporters marched in Budapest and other big cities, making it the biggest rally against the Orbn government since 2010. Reuters has estimated that Tuesday saw as many as 100,000 Hungarians protest against the measure. The movement is largely organised by a Facebook group set up by Balzs Gulys who claims the protests to be exclusively apolitical and who has called on protesters not to visibly promote any particular political party or ideology during the marches. While the legislation remains in place (and will do so until Orbn takes the political decision to withdraw it), the protests have led to the government's decision to adjust the proposal to the extent that a cap of 700 forints (2.3 euros) for private users and 5,000 forints (16 euros) for private sector will be incorporated into the legislation.
Insignificant as the Internet tax may seem, particularly given the amount raised '' 20 billion forints (64 million euros) '' it matters for a number of reasons. First of all, the measure must be seen in the context of Hungary's slow but steady detachment from the liberal values on which the EU has been built. In fact, Viktor Orbn is not at all shy about his adulation for Russia's Vladimir Putin and his illiberal regime. The Internet tax has become yet another government's leverage of control of communication and freedom of expression. By the same token, opposition, relying heavily on the Internet to promote its ideas, will be further disadvantaged vis- -vis the government, which has at its disposal a loyal public service broadcaster. Secondly, in light of the measure's potential to lower the quality of democracy in the country, Budapest finds itself at odds, once again, with the EU. Further diminution of the already awkward relations between the EU and Hungary poses a question whether the country has distanced itself from the EU to the extent that appropriate measures, notably the use of Article 7 TEU would be necessary. Last but not least, Hungary's slippery slope to illiberal democracy will have serious consequences for the future functioning of the Visegrad Four (V4) group. The fundamentals of the group remain strong. However, Hungary's detachment from Europe will have ramifications both for the group internally and externally. The group can continue its close cooperation only if the four countries agree on the most fundamental issues such as the political system. Hungary's flirtation with illiberalism could undermine the Visegrad Four's internal integrity and, by extension, the group's unity in Brussels. How much longer will the EU and Central European leaders ignore Hungary's anti-democratic tendencies? Tendencies which will sooner or later turn the country from an asset into a liability both for the EU and the V4.
This text was co-published with Visegrad Insight
Frank MarkovicFrank is a European citizen and proud of it too. He grew up in Eastern (some would say Central) Europe. Frank moved to the UK in 2007 where he spent one year of his precious life working in menial jobs before enrolling at the BA joint programme of Politics and Communication Studies at the University of Liverpool and later BA programme of Politics at the University of Exeter. After having obtained his MA in European Public Affairs from Maastricht University, he is currently working for the European Council of Young Farmers in Brussels.Frank has developed a strong interest in European and American politics. Both have shown an obsession with political horse-trading and log rolling '' hence reflecting the ugly truth of our species. Moreover their comedic value deserves our attention too. After all, there is hardly anything more uplifting than watching Christine O'Donnell having to explain she's not a witch or Nigel Farage hurling himself into defending the long lost British Empire. Throw in a couple of global warming deniers from the US Congress and Catholic fundamentalists from the EU Parliament and one instantly understands Ray Lankester's work on devolution on human species.
Frank is at your disposal at email@example.com you can tweet Frank at @FrankMarkovic
HUNGARY-World Science Forum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:50
World Science Forum is an international conference series on global science policy. Since 2003, it is being organized biannually in Budapest, Hungary.
World Science Forum or WSF traces back its origin to the first World Conference on Science, organised by UNESCO and ICSU and held in Budapest in 1999. The first WSF was organised in 2003, followed by the second in 2005 and the third in 2007. The fourth WSF was held from 5 through 7 November 2009 in Budapest, Hungary, focusing on "Knowledge and future". The fifth World Science Forum was heln between 17 and 19 November 2011 in Budapest, it focused on "The changing landscape of science".
The World Science Forum aims at being the "Davos of Science" and achieving the same global strategic impact on science and science policy as the World Economic Forum does it in the field of global economic policy.
Origin, vision and missionBy the end of the 20th century, science and knowledge became essential parts of Mankind's everyday lives. Scientific knowledge is not only the result of Humanity's inherent curiosity and scientific endeavor, it is a powerful means of understanding human nature, society, and the Nature in which humans live. Advance in science is a major contributor to society's socio-economic development, the global welfare of humankind, man's relation to Nature, and the quality of life.
In past centuries the predominant role of science was the production of new knowledge to satisfy the curiosity of the human mind. In recent years, the role of science has undergone changes, as scientific inquiry has increasingly become the motor of development in society. By the end of the 20th century, science has acquired a number of new roles. These novel roles may '' and should '' contribute in a decisive manner to the daily life of humankind in the 21st century.
In spite of its spectacular development and new opportunities, the science of 21st century faces wavering confidence, unseen dilemmas and brand-new questions. These problems can be solved only if the main procedures and users of knowledge are able to reach common ground for the new roles of knowledge and science in 21st century's global Society.
These issues have been discussed by the first World Conference of Science, organised by UNESCO and ICSU, with the participation of over 2000 delegated from 186 countries on 26 June '' 1 July 1999 in Budapest, Hungary.
As a follow-up to the World Conference on Science the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), in partnership with UNESCO and ICSU, initiated a unique forum series for a much needed genuine debate and hopefully lasting interaction between the scientific community and Society. Three members of HAS played a key role in establishing the World Science Forum series: Istvn Lng, the organiser of the 1999 World Conference of Science; Balzs Gulys, the founding director of the WSF series; and E. Sylvester Vizi, the then president of HAS. At present the President of World Science Forum is Professor J"zsef Plinks President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Mission of WSF
'' To provide major stakeholders with a global forum for dialogue on science and its role and responsibility in the 21st Century.
'' To better understand and promote the need for science and scientific advice in political and economic decision-making.
'' To exchange views and ideas on how to communicate science and its basic values to the society at large and to the various stakeholder groups.
OrganisersThe main organising institution of the WSF is the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in close partnership with UNESCO and ICSU. The preparatory activities of the Forum are led by a Governing Board, helped by an international Steering Committee.
PatronsPatrons of the WSF are the President of Hungary, the Director-General of UNESCO, the President of ICSU, and the President of the European Commission. At present, they are Pl Schmitt, Irina Bokova, Yuan Tseh Lee and Jos(C) Manuel Barroso.
International Steering CommitteeThe Steering Committee of the WSF consists of internationally renowned scientists and science politicians. Its chair is J"zsef Plinks, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Members of the Steering Committee include Sir Brian Heap, Chairman EASAC; Gretchen Kalonji, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Yuan-Tseh Lee, President, International Council for Science (ICSU), Nobel Laureate; Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); Jacob Palis, President, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, President, The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS); Werner Arber, Nobel Laureate; Ahmed Zewail, Director, Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology, Nobel Laureate; Ichiro Kanazawa, President, Science Council of Japan; Sir George Radda, Chairman, Biomedical Research Council; Lidia Brito, Director, Division for Science Policy and Sustainable Development, Natural Sciences Sector, UNESCO; Deliang Chen, Executive Director, International Council for Science (ICSU); Vaughan Turekian, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Governing BodiesThe chairman of the Governing Board of WSF is J"zsef Plinks, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and President of World Science Forum. The Executive Director of the WSF is Balazs Gulyas, the executive secretaries are Gergely B¶hm and dm K(C)gler.
The forthcoming WSFThe forthcoming forum will be organised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2013.
HUNGARY REGIME CHANGE-Balzs Gulys - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:49
Balzs Gulys (born June 26, 1956) is a Hungarian neurobiologist.
PersonaliaGulys is a Hungarian born neurobiologist now working and residing in Sweden. Since 1988, Gulys has been living in Stockholm, working at the Karolinska Institute. Since 2013, he has been a Professor at the Imperial College London-Nanyang Technological University Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore. Gulys received his university degrees from Semmelweis University from which he graduated as Doctor of Medicine (MD) and from the Catholic University of Leuven where he obtained a BA and an MA in Philosophy and a PhD in neurobiology. He is a member of the Batthyny Society of Professors.
Gulys' main research interest is functional neuroimaging and cognitive neuroscience. In recent years, he has also been involved in neuropharmacological drug and biomarker research and development.
Gulys has published nine books, over 35 book-chapters and over 150 research papers in peer reviewed scientific journals.
A professor of neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, Gulys was a guest professor, among others, of the Coll¨ge de France, and is a faculty member of the Collegium Budapest - Institute of Advanced Study and the Parmenides Foundation . He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (since 1995), the Academia Europaea (where he is also a member of the Council) and the Royal Belgian Academy of Medicine. He is the founding director of the World Science Forum series.
PublicationsHis books include:
- Gulys, B. (ed.) The Brain-Mind Problem. Philosophical and Neurophysiological Approaches. Leuven and Assen: Leuven University Press and Van Gorcum, 1987. p. XI+119. ISBN 90-6186-246-9
- Gulys, B., Ottoson, D., and Roland, P. E. (eds.) Functional Organization of the Human Visual Cortex. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1993. p. 391. ISBN 0-08-042004-4. 
- Gulys, B. and M¼ller-G¤rtner, H. W. (eds.) Positron emission tomography: A critical assessment of recent trends. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publisher, 1998. p. 482. ISBN 0-7923-5091-X
- Pl(C)h, C., Kovcs, G. and Gulys, B. (eds.) Cognitive Neuroscience. Budapest, Osiris Press, 2003. 832 p. ISBN 963-389-313-5. 
- Kraft, E., Gulys, B. and P¶ppel, E. (eds.) Neural Correlates of Thinking. Springer Verlag, 2008. ISBN 978-3-540-68042-0, 
References^ abcd"Az MTA tagjai (The members of MTA)" (in Hungarian). mta.hu. Retrieved 2010-01-25. ^"Balazs Gulyas CV)". balazs-gulyas.hu. Retrieved 2010-01-25. ^"Professzorok Batthyny K¶re - Tagjaink" (in Hungarian). bla.hu. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2012. ^"World Science Forum - Participants". sciforum.hu. Retrieved 2010-01-25. External linksPersondataNameGulyas, BalazsAlternative namesShort descriptionHungarian neuroscientistDate of birth1956-06-26Place of birthBudapest, HungaryDate of deathPlace of death