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Germany seeks to curb Hungary’s EU media duties

The German government announced that Hungary should allow the European Commission to handle talks on media affairs with eastern partner states. Deputy minister in charge of foreign affairs Werner Hoyer said Hungary lacks credibility in negotiating media-related issues given its newly ratified and highly controversial media law.

The German government has already expressed its disapproval of the bill which it considers fit to constrain freedom of the press. As such, Germany is urging not only media commissioner Neelie Kroes but also European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding to take the law under scrutiny. Several socialist and liberal MEPs have actually called for Hungary to be stripped of the presidency unless it changes the law.

The media is not the only sector that has aggravated Germany. Its government also voiced strong criticism against the Orbán cabinet’s crisis taxes which it deems puts foreign companies at an unfair disadvantage.

In the meantime European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told journalists that an actual proceeding against Hungary has yet to start, since that may only happen one the bill has undergone legal evaluation. There is no deadline for completing the evaluation. In theory, it may take years, he said.

He also added that the fact that Hungary is the current president of the EU will in no way factor in whether proceedings are started once the review is completed.

Hungarian Foreign Minister János Martonyi told Inforádió in an interview that the EU’s evaluation will finally “cool things down” and put an end to the criticism coming at Hungary which he deems is often harsh an unjustified. (BBJ)