By Martin Banks - 16th April 2013
The EU has got to act otherwise it will lose all credibility
Greens co-leader Rebecca Harms has warned that the EU will "lose credibility" unless it acts against "human rights violations" in Hungary.
Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Harms said, "It is no use the EU condemning such violations in other parts of the world if it stands idly by and does nothing against similar violations here in Europe."
Her comments at a news briefing in Strasbourg come as MEPs are set to debate the latest situation in Hungary, after its parliament recently passed a series of new constitutional amendments.
Parliament is also concluding an assessment of previous controversial constitutional reforms, democracy and fundamental rights in Hungary.
Last week, the commission said it would take legal action against Hungary over the new amendments made to its constitution. The executive questioned whether the changes were compatible with EU law.
The EU has accused prime minister Viktor Orbán of using constitutional amendments to limit the powers of Hungary's top court.
In a letter to Orbán on Friday, commission president José Manuel Barroso said the EU had "serious concerns over the compatibility of the constitutional changes with EU legislation and the rule of law".
He said, "The commission will have to take the necessary steps in order to start infringement procedures where relevant."
The Greens say the new amendments "undermine" the independence of the constitutional court in Hungary and the rights of minorities.
Harms called on the European commission and council to "take action".
She said that "no lessons" had been learned by Orbán "as he continues his anti-democratic lurch".
The German deputy also said the Hungarian case "should not be taken in isolation", adding that similar concerns could be applied to other EU members, including Italy, Bulgarian and Romania.
She added, "The EU has got to act otherwise it will lose all credibility."
Her comments were partly echoed by S&D leader Hannes Swoboda who, addressing a separate briefing, said, "Orbán seems to have changed from being a supporter of reform to one who restricts freedoms.
"He seems to want to hold onto power forever. It is unbelievable what he is doing."
But he cautioned against possible sanctions which might adversely affect ordinary Hungarian people.
"The Hungarian people are sanctioned enough by their own government," said the Austrian deputy.