Hungary’s emergency law that enables Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to rule by decree without time limits is incompatible with being in the EU, the European Parliament’s liberal group said on Tuesday.
Passing measures ostensibly to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hungarian parliament on Monday voted to give Orban the power to rule by decree with no clear end-date.
The law also introduces jail terms for spreading disinformation about the virus, raising fears it could be used to neuter critics of the government’s approach.
“Viktor Orban has completed his project of killing democracy and the rule of law in Hungary,” said Sophie in’t Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament (MEP), who chairs the body’s rule of law group. “Clearly, the actions of the Hungarian government are incompatible with EU membership.”
Dacian Ciolos, a former Romanian prime minister and EU commissioner who now leads the liberal group, said it was “shameful this dreadful corona is abused in such a manner.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issued a statement on Tuesday calling for all emergency measures to be “limited to what is necessary and strictly proportionate” and not lasting indefinitely.
“It is of utmost importance that emergency measures are not at the expense of our fundamental principles and values as set out in the treaties,” Von der Leyen said in a statement that did not mention Hungary directly.
The message from Washington was more direct.
US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel said that Orban was making “a blatant power grab in the face of the worst global health crisis in recent history.”
“This legislation marginalizes the Hungarian parliament and allows prime minister Orban to rule by decree like a dictator,” he said.
Hungarian MEP Katalin Cseh last week urged the commission to engage with Budapest over the law last week once it was clear Orban was on course to secure the law with his two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament.
“In a democracy, we should never give anyone unlimited powers or unlimited time. It’s not a matter of whether I trust Orban. It’s really about our basic perception of democracy... There should always be checks and balances. Such a law is against my perception of parliamentary democracy,” she said.
Responding to Von der Leyen’s statement, Orban’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said the Hungarian state of emergency and extraordinary measures were “congruent with the treaties and the Hungarian constitution, and targeted exclusively at fighting the coronavirus.”
He said the law upheld EU values, rule of law and, press freedom, while accusing critics of being misinformed.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data