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EU warns Hungary again over constitution changes

The European Commission stepped up pressure on Hungary over Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s consolidation of power, calling on the government to heed its warnings about the erosion of the rule of law in the nation. In a letter to Orbán, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that, based on an initial analysis, the Commission had serious concerns about the compatibility of the constitutional changes with EU legislation and the rule of law. Once the legal analysis is finalized, the commission said it will take steps “where relevant” to start infringement procedures against Hungary, which could lead to a court case. He appealed to the prime minister, the leader of the nationalist Fidesz party, to “address these concerns and to tackle them in a determined and unambiguous way”. Lawmakers last month backed a constitutional amendment to curtail judicial authority, limit campaign ads in private media, restrict the definition of a family to marriage and allow the criminalization of homeless people who live on the streets, all of which the Constitutional Court has vetoed in past decisions. The move underscored concern for the rule of law and checks and balances in Hungary, where Orbán wields a two-thirds parliamentary majority.