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Rule of law in Hungary deliberated in Brussels

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EP Press conference. Briefing before the EU Summit.
EP Press conference. Briefing before the EU Summit.   -   Copyright  © European Union 2019 - Source : EP   -   Dominique HOMMEL
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It was one year ago that the so- called Article 7 process against Hungary was triggered by MEPs.

It is the EU's most powerful tool against countries who breach fundamental European Values. On Monday the EU Council took the first step - and called for a hearing.

"I hope that we will speed up the process now, because a lot of damage have already been done to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. I think that also sets a very bad precedent. I think its also important that the EU reacts much more speedily and effectively when the European values are violated," Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld said.

The report by MEPs criticised changes to the election system, ruling party dominance of institutions, systemic corruption and violating media freedom.

If Budapest continues on its current course, it could become costly.

"There is the new regulation on a law which is going to apply from 2021 which says that rule of law and democracy is a precondition for European funds. And if Orban Viktor will not change his politics, then it means that EU funds can be suspended for Hungary," Hungarian MEP Klara Dobrev explained.

The Hungarian Justice minister said the process is a witch hunt.

"I came here to defend Hungary. And I expect member states to stand on the basis of law when scrutinising Hungary. I expect them to avoid double standards, I expect them to prove that this procedure is not a political witch hunt," Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said.

And other news in brief...

Incoming EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has defended her controversial decision to name the migration portfolio "protecting our European way of life."What she meant by that were basic values like human dignity, freedom, democracy and the rule of law, she wrote in an op-ed in several European newspapers.

The EU can't allow others "to take away our language from us," she said.

The nominee for EU Justice Commissioner, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, has been accused of corruption and money laundering by an intelligence agent.

According to press reports, the agent alleges Reynders took bribes to influence government contracts and State purchases. The agent also mentioned fraudulent property transactions and shell companies.

READ MORE: Euronews looks at other commissioners under scrutiny

Additional sources • Euronews