Center for Fundamental Rights

Refutation of the TOP10+1 erroneous statements of the Sargentini Report

For the first time in the history of European Parliament the members shall decide if they will initiate the procedure established for the case of a systematic breach of the fundamental values of the European Union. This institution walks on eggshells, since abstract terminologies with no factual legal definition, such as democracy or the rule of law have no generally accepted meaning among the Member States. Standards fully accepted by all national states certainly do not exist, since due to the different cultural and historical traditions of the Member States there are no identical state structures or legal systems. On this basis, in fact there is rather a risk that the exclusive demand for the determination of the concept of the rule of law by the liberal ideology makes diversity impossible, which has always made Europe great. Therefore, the activation of Article 7 may have unforeseeable consequences for the entire European Union. Whatever the procedure of the Union is, it shall be objective and unbiased, otherwise the legal instruments will be wiped out and will become instruments of political pressure. After a thorough examination of the Sargentini report on the situation of the Hungarian rule of law, the firm belief of the Center for Fundamental Rights is that the criticism of the report is not more than political accusations arising from opposite ideological views, disguised however as a legal opinion. Namely, certain parts of the allegations are noticeably based on insufficient knowledge or intentional misinterpretation of the Hungarian legislation, others, however, are clearly ideologically driven. In addition, Hungary has already successfully refuted the vast majority of the charges set out in the document before the relevant international organisations, whether it is the European Commission or the Venice Commission. The other part of the criticisms covers areas of law, which by all means belong to sovereignty of the Member States, since they do not, even indirectly concern any competence of the European Union, and consequently, they could not be subjects of an EU scrutiny. Sargentini lifted this prohibition clearly set out in the Treaties, by referring to a document without any legal relevance, issued by the European Commission in 2003, claiming that the actually elusive “values of the European Union” are so important, that in order to protect them, the procedure under Article 7 may extend to exclusive competences of the Member States. Nevertheless, this kind of covert power expansion ignores the sovereignty of the Member States, so it is against the principles of the EU and points out that in fact, the argument is not about the rule of law but about the sovereignty. We are convinced that when deciding such disputes, we must take into consideration that the European Union in itself is not a purpose, but an instrument, which shall serve the benefit of the Member States. As a result, the report contains numerous factual errors, which make it clear that it is inappropriate to provide an objective and unbiased picture of the Hungarian situation.

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