30 Apr 2020

Showing true illiberal colours

Rule of law vs Orbán’s pandemic politics

Petra Bárd / Sergio Carrera

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The Hungarian government has declared a “state of danger” and granted itself indefinite extraordinary powers. This serves other political interests than those of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, argue Petra Bárd and Sergio Carrera.

This Policy Insight assesses the scope of what has now become known as the ‘Enabling Act’, which grants Viktor Obán’s government the power to rule by decree. It considers the implications of this Act for the effective democratic control of executive actions and other checks and balances, such as media pluralism and freedom of association.

The authors note that the EU has so far been unable to halt rule of law backsliding by Hungary’s government, despite the fact that it has violated the founding principles of the Treaty on European Union, as enshrined in Article 2 for over a decade.

The paper proposes more EU centralisation in the assessment of all member states’ compliance with the triad of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. It suggests, first, the enforcement of EU standards by the European Commission and the Luxembourg Court through ‘rule of law infringement proceedings’, and second, the adoption of an interinstitutional EU Periodic Review (EUPR) of Article 2 TEU values.