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EC points to unaddressed concerns over Hungary in Rule of Law report

EU

The European Commission outlined concerns regarding judicial independence, anti-corruption measures, and the system of checks and balances in Hungary in its third annual Rule of Law Report published on Wednesday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

The EC said in the report that concerns over judicial independence, involving matters such as discretionary decisions on judicial appointments and promotions, case allocation as well as bonuses to judges and court executives, "remain unaddressed", although it acknowledged that the justice system "performs well" in terms of length of proceedings.

The EC said the implementation of "most measures" that were part of a 2020-2022 anti-corruption strategy was postponed, and it pointed to persistent "shortcomings...as regards lobbying, revolving doors as well as political party and campaign financing". It added that independent control mechanisms "remain insufficient" to detect corruption.

It said the "transparency and quality" of the legislative process remain a source of concern and noted that the government has used its emergency powers "extensively, also in areas not related to the COVID-19 pandemic".

    
 

    The EC said implementation of judgements by European courts has been "ineffective" and added that "pressure continues" on civil society organisations.
 

    "The continued channelling of significant amounts of state advertising to pro-government media creates an unlevel playing field in the media landscape," the EC said.
 

    In a post on Facebook on Wednesday, Justice Minister Judit Varga said the report, "as in previous years, is based on unreliable gauges, biased NGOs and prejudices".
 

    "But it is important to note that in the course of negotiations with the Commission, we can be more optimistic, as the professional dialogue is now concentrated on solutions and not problems," she added.
 

    "We shall hold to our fundamental position: honesty. We've discussed the problems honestly and now we're discussing the solutions honestly, too," Ms Varga said.

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