The election in Hungary resulted in a two thirds majority for the ruling party led by the Prime Minister, Mr. Viktor Orbán. Engagement with all EU member states is a key imperative for Ireland in advancing and protecting our interests in the European Union. In that context, we raise not only issues of shared interest with our partners but also issues of concern. The Government will continue to work with the Prime Minister, Mr. Viktor Orbán, and his administration to ensure the European Union is equipped for the collective challenges we face, not least in addressing the issues of greatest concerns to citizens, including Brexit and the European Union’s future finances.
Respect for the fundamental values on which the European Union is founded and which are set out in the treaty, including respect for the rule of law and freedom of expression, is a crucial underpinning for all EU member states and that is a message we also convey.
There are concerns about the civic space available for NGOs to continue to operate in Hungary. The overall media environment in Hungary has also deteriorated further in recent weeks with the closure of a major independent newspaper.
The European Commission is, in the first instance, charged with ensuring the application of the treaties and responsible for promoting the general interests of the European Union. Last December it announced that it was referring Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union in relation, inter alia, to the laws on higher education and NGOs which were adopted in 2017. In the case of these two issues, Hungary is considered to have failed to address EU concerns about these laws or amend the legislation to bring it into line with EU standards. These cases are likely to be heard by the court later this year. Notwithstanding this, it is important that Hungary and the Commission engage on these issues and that ultimately a resolution be achieved, if possible, without the need for formal court action.