EC Reviews Hungary's Progress on Rule of Law Recommendations

EU

The European Commission acknowledged Hungary's implementation of recommendations on the role of the National Judicial Council and on rules governing the Kúria, the country's highest court, but said "no progress" had been made on guidance regarding lobbying, the independence of the media regulator and public service media, the distribution of state advertising money, and civil society organizations in an annual Rule of Law Report published on Wednesday.

Hungary "fully implemented" recommendations on strengthening the role of the National Judicial Council and adapting rules related to the Kuria to bring them in line with EU law requirements, the EC said.

It added that the justice system performed "very well" as regards the length of proceedings.

The EC pointed to a number of anti-corruption reforms Hungary is rolling out in response to a conditionality procedure the EU has launched, including the establishment of a new Integrity Authority to improve oversight over spending of EU funds and the chance for judicial review of prosecutorial decisions not to investigate or prosecute corruption; but it said the "lack of a robust track record of investigations of corruption allegations concerning high-level officials and their immediate circle remains a serious concern".

The EC noted "some progress" made related to asset declarations by public officials, but said no amendments had been introduced to reform lobbying and revolving doors, and that "shortcomings remain" regarding political party and campaign finance.

"Concerns persist with regard to both the functional independence of the media authority, as well as the editorial and financial independence of public service media," the EC said. "No measures have been adopted or are planned to regulate the channeling of state advertising to media outlets," it added.

The EC said legal certainty had been "undermined" by an "unpredictable" regulatory environment and "extensive and prolonged use" of the government's emergency powers. 

 "No steps have been taken to remove obstacles affecting civil society organizations, which remain under pressure," the EC said in the report.

In a statement issued after the release of the report, the Government Information Centre said Brussels was "attacking" Hungary because it hadn't "joined the pro-war ranks".

"Brussels' latest report attacking Hungary again confirms that in spite of fulfilling all commitments and continuously consulting with the European Commission, the pressuring continues," it added.

Hungary's government doesn't want "migrant ghettos" and won't scrap its system of regulated household energy prices, but would question the European Commission regarding the whereabouts of the money it has given to Ukraine, the center said.

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