Europe+ Statement on Hungarian Commissioner Nomination
Dear Members of the European Parliament,
In the course of the past few months we have witnessed a very serious escalation of attacks in Hungary against the core European values of democracy and the respect for human rights. This ranges from attempts to curb media freedom to direct threats against civil society organisations, as recently shown by the Government-ordered police raids on two NGOs.
Since the re-election of Viktor Orbán as Prime Minister of Hungary in April this year, several civil society organisations receiving external funding have been persecuted and accused by the Government of embezzlement and of unauthorised financial activities supporting the political opposition. This situation reached a peak on 8 September, when Hungarian police officials raided the offices of Ökotárs and Demnet, two NGOs responsible for the distribution of Norwegian NGO Grants (EEA Grants) in the country. This creates a troubling analogy with the Russian Federation, where civil society organisations receiving funds from foreign countries are obliged to register as ‘foreign agents’.
The authoritarian drift of an EU Member State indicated through the clear and repeated threats made against the Hungarian democratic system can no longer be ignored.
This is all the more important considering that last week the future President of the European Commission, Mr. Junker, nominated as European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship the incumbent Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Navracsics. If approved by the European Parliament in October, Mr Navracsics’ portfolio would include engaging with European CSOs to generate civic participation and civil dialogue in promoting some of the founding values of the European democratic system: citizenship and belonging.
We exhort any future Hungarian European Commissioner to act as a true watchdog of European values, which Hungary endorsed when it joined the EU in 2004, and to work for a more inclusive, plural and social Europe.
With this in mind, we call on the Members of the European Parliament to take prompt and necessary action to address this worrisome and unacceptable situation.
Europe+ is a transparent and inclusive space for debate created by, and for, civil society, to design a constructive regeneration of the European project. Consisting of 40+ European civil society organisations, Europe+ members work together for positive democratic change in the EU through the active and better involvement of citizens in representative and participative democracy, institutional reforms and policy change.