Fundamental values and the rule of law are a shared EU interest.
We have concerns about issues relating to the rule of law in Hungary in the area of civic space, media freedom and the judiciary.
We have concerns over the civic space available for NGOs to continue to operate in Hungary. These concerns have been exacerbated by the passage of legislation aimed at individuals and organisations providing lawful assistance to migrants and asylum seekers.
We also regret that the necessary steps were not taken to ensure the operation of Central European University in Budapest in the long term. As the Taoiseach said previously in this House, the loss of the Central European University will be a loss to Budapest and Hungary.
We note that the Hungarian Government has withdrawn its legislative proposal on establishing an administrative court, which was a source of great concern with regard to the independent functioning of the judicial system in Hungary. Other judicial reforms have now been proposed by the Hungarian Government which are now under consideration by the Hungarian parliament. We hope that these reforms are also properly scrutinised with a view to upholding fundamental values and the principles of the rule of law which all EU Member States must adhere to.
Article 7 proceedings were launched against Hungary on 12 September 2018. The first hearing of Hungary under the Article 7 procedure took place at the General Affairs Council of 16 September 2019. We support the continuation of the Article 7 procedure.
The Minister for European Affairs, Helen McEntee T.D., discussed rule of law issues with Mr Szabolcs Takács, then Hungarian Minister of State for EU Policies and Coordination, when they met in Dublin on 4 April 2019.
At meetings of the General Affairs Council, Ireland has actively participated in discussions highlighting the importance of respect for the rule of law. The 19 November 2019 General Affairs Council included consideration of a proposal for a yearly stocktaking exercise on the state of play and latest developments regarding the Rule of Law in the EU. We support this proposal.