Brussels, September 12, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed the vote by members of the European Parliament in favor of a resolution against Hungary for breaching EU values, and called on the bloc to keep up pressure on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government.
“For years the Orbán administration has flaunted fundamental European Union values by shrinking the space for independent media to do its job and provide an array of information and opinion to Hungarian citizens,” said Tom Gibson, CPJ’s EU Representative. “The European Parliament vote should serve as a wake-up call to EU institutions and national governments that press freedom is a fundamental democratic value that needs to be vigorously defended and promoted throughout the 28 member states, starting with Hungary.”
The resolution to trigger Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union requires the European Council to confirm that Hungary has breached treaty values, and could ultimately lead to sanctions, including a suspension of the country’s voting rights.
CPJ has found that independent journalism in Hungary is highly restricted, with media ownership concentrated in the hands of oligarchs and businessmen linked to the ruling FIDESZ party, and government advertising subsidies favoring pro-government outlets. Those same outlets have openly attacked critical journalists.
CPJ’s 2015 report, “Balancing Act,“ underlined the inadequate response of EU institutions to Hungary’s 2010 press laws and recommended utilizing Article 7 against member states that break press freedom commitments.
In April, MEP Judith Sargentini issued a report outlining detailed concerns in relation to the rule of law and human rights in Hungary, including press freedom.