Report: EU measures against Orbán ineffective

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Despite victories against the Hungarian government in the European Court, former EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding says Brussels has a hard time enforcing its decisions, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday.

EU authorities have criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s "illiberal democracy", but have little power in the way of curbing his restructuring of the judiciary, data protection, media and non-governmental organizations, EU and Hungarians officials say.

Former EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding won two cases in the European Court of Justice against Hungary in the dismissal of the independent data protection supervisor and the enforced mass retirement of judges at age 62. Because the EU had no legal basis for sanctioning a member over the independence of the judiciary, Reding had to use age discrimination rules. Despite this, the supervisor and the judges have not been reinstated.

With Orbán stating that "the death penalty needs to be kept on the agenda" in April, EU critics finally thought they had found an issue to formally address; the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker even went so far as to say "should Hungary introduce the death penalty, it would be a reason to break up". Though Orbán quickly assured President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz that he had no intention of restoring it.

Last month, Juncker playfully called Orbán a ʼdictatorʼ and slapped him during a meeting for a press photo shoot in Riga. This was a follow up to another incident in January, where Juncker pulled Orbán offstage following a handshake, in Brussels. In May, 2014 Orbán and the U.K. Prime Minister openly said they would not support Juncker in becoming the President of the European Commission.

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