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13 EU members issue statement on rule of law in context of COVID-19 crisis

Thirteen European Union member states expressed concern over the threat to rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights posed by "certain" emergency measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus in a joint statement issued on their government websites, state news wire MTI reports.

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"In this unprecedented situation, it is legitimate that member states adopt extraordinary measures to protect their citizens and overcome the crisis. We are however deeply concerned about the risk of violations of the principles of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights arising from the adoption of certain emergency measures," Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden said in the joint statement.

"Emergency measures should be limited to what is strictly necessary, should be proportionate and temporary in nature, subject to regular scrutiny, and respect the aforementioned principles and international law obligations. They should not restrict the freedom of expression or the freedom of the press. We need to jointly overcome this crisis and to jointly uphold our European principles and values on this path," the countries said.

"We therefore support the European Commission initiative to monitor the emergency measures and their application to ensure the fundamental values of the Union are upheld, and invite the General Affairs Council to take up the matter when appropriate," they added.

Earlier on Wednesday, the European Commissionʼs chief spokesperson said the EUʼs executive body would analyze a law giving the Hungarian government extraordinary powers to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and monitor its application.

"As regards the state of emergency in Hungary, the Commission will...now analyze the final law and closely monitor its application by the government. This includes the application of provisions criminalizing fake news," Eric Mamer said, responding to questions by journalists.