Hungary: European Union Is Facing the ‘Greatest Crisis in Its History’

Members of the EU Parliament arrive and sit in an empty hemicycle at the beginning of the plenary session which is reduced to a single day due to the spread of the COVID-19 illness, in Brussels, on March 10, 2020. - All European Union States are hit by the novel …
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

The Hungarian Justice Minister chastised the European Parliament (EP) in a stinging address Wednesday, insisting it has been “part of the problem” rather than a solution during the coronavirus pandemic.

In her speech before the plenary assembly of the EP, Minister Judit Varga said the European Union “is facing the greatest crisis in its history” due to the coronavirus pandemic, which poses a direct threat to the lives and health of our citizens.

Varga highlighted the “shock to the European economy” requiring new solutions to maintain and strengthen European competitiveness in the long run, since the “methods and solutions used in the past have manifestly failed.”

The minister also lashed out at the parliament for its criticism of measures enacted by the Hungarian government to protect its citizens when it should be supporting its member states in their efforts.

“Can an institution call itself European that attacks one of the Member States during the most difficult period in the fight against the epidemic, questions its measures and undermines the legitimacy of its decisions?” she asked. “This would not qualify as a standard procedure even among enemies, and it is a historic betrayal within the European family.”

EU citizens expect that the European Union support the Member States with all the means at its disposal in the fight to save their lives, she stated. “The European Parliament has not been able to meet this expectation. Today, the European Parliament is not the solution, but part of the problem.”

The European Parliament’s original mission was to be a place of democratic debate, respecting European values and the diversity and identity of European nations, she noted, and it has abandoned this mission in failing to listen to its members.

“Today, not even the right to a fair trial is guaranteed to a Member State of the European Union,” in reference to the EU’s criticism of Hungary. “Even during the worst historical times in conceptual lawsuits, care was taken to ensure at least that the person accused was present at the trial.”

Varga also laid out the exceptional measures put in place in Hungary, insisting that they “fully comply” with the rule of law and the principles of the EU.

The “state of danger declared” by the Hungarian government on March 11 was extended by an the authorization of the National Assembly, but this authorization “is not unlimited either in time or in content,” she observed, and the National Assembly “may revoke the authorization at any time, even before the end of the state of danger.”

“The extraordinary measures of the Government will cease to be in force when the state of danger ends,” she said.

And yet, the European Parliament “falsely accused the Hungarian Government of suspending the sittings of the National Assembly,” she declared. “Unlike the European Parliament, the Hungarian National Assembly is alive and well!”

Varga said Hungary has prepared and submitted a “thorough international comparative analysis” showing that the extraordinary measures introduced in Hungary “are not unique in a European comparison.”

“I respectfully call on the European Commission to make their comparative analysis public, which has been promised so many times, so that we can share our knowledge in a fair constitutional dialogue,” she added.

She also underscored that the extraordinary measures of the Hungarian government do not restrict the activities of the media and do not affect freedom of expression, except in taking effective action to limit “the deliberate spread of lies.”

“Everything we say or do today will be judged by future generations on the basis of whether it has hindered or helped to prevent the epidemic and to get Europe back on its feet,” Varga stated.

“I trust that the European Parliament, instead of its current displacement activity, will also find a way to play an adequate role in this mission,” she concluded.

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