Hungary “can no longer be considered a full democracy,” the European Parliament said after adopting a report on Thursday.
The parliament said the situation “has worsened, Hungary has become an ‘electoral autocracy'”.
“Generally, [The European Parliament] regrets that the EU’s lack of decisive action has led to the breakdown of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary, and the transformation of one of its member states into a hybrid electoral autocratic regime,” the report says.
“There is a growing consensus among experts that Hungary is no longer a democracy,” the report added.
In the report, members of Parliament expressed several concerns, including the functioning of the country’s electoral system and judicial independence. They also expressed fears about academic and religious freedoms, as well as the rights of vulnerable groups, including “ethnic minorities, LGBTIQ people, human rights defenders, refugees and migrants”.
The motion, which was approved with 433 votes in favor, 123 against and 28 abstentions, asks the European Council and the European Commission to “pay more attention to the systematic disintegration of the rule of law” in Hungary.
In particular, it has The EU Parliament asks the Commission to retain Hungary’s EU funds.
Some right-wing MEPs criticized the report, saying it was “based on subjective opinions and politically biased statements and reflects vague concerns, value judgments and double standards”.
“This text is another attempt by European federalist political parties to attack Hungary and its Christian-democratic and conservative government for ideological reasons,” they said in a minority position statement attached to the report.
Citing corruption risks, the European Commission will recommend later this week that billions earmarked for Budapest be cut from the bloc’s 1.1 trillion euro ($1.1 trillion) shared budget for 2021-27, according to Reuters.
This would be the first such movement in the EU called “money for democracy” which was agreed two years ago, precisely in response to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his allies in Poland. the block
For years, Hungary, which joined the EU in 2004, has been locked in bitter disputes over migrant, gay and women’s rights, as well as the independence of the judiciary, media and academia.
The so-called illiberal crusader, however, denies that Hungary is more corrupt than other nations in the 27-nation bloc.
The European Commission has already blocked 6 billion euros owed to Budapest from the bloc’s Covid economic stimulus package because of insufficient safeguards against graft in Hungarian public procurement.
Funds worth as much as a tenth of Hungary’s GDP could be at stake if other EU members accept the Commission’s expected recommendation, a prospect that has weighed heavily on the Hungarian forint, central Europe’s worst-performing currency.
Budapest has come under pressure in recent weeks to strike a deal with Brussels and unlock funding for Hungary’s ailing economy, with Orbán’s government promising to create a new anti-graft agency.
Member countries have three months to decide on the Commission’s recommendation, and can limit the penalty if they find Budapest’s actions convincing in the meantime.
But on Friday, Orban dismissed the EU Parliament’s statement as a “boring joke”.
“As for the decision of the EU Parliament, we think it is in the realm of (a) joke. We are not laughing because it is a boring joke,” Orban said through a translator after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Reuters reported.