Hungary’s new constitution, media law triggers EC nerves

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An EU official has warned that talks with Hungary over emergency funding could be frozen and the country faces possible legal action if its controversial new constitution breaches European treaties.

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The new constitution entered into force on 1 January, accompanied by legislation which critics say undermine the independence of the central bank, the judiciary and the media – and entrench the position of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party which is affiliated with the European People’s Party.

Tens of thousands of people protested in Budapest on Monday (2 January) alleging that the new laws are authoritarian.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Orbán exchanged a series of letters at the end of December in which Barroso warned the prime minister not to jeopardise the independence of the Bank of Hungary, and re-iterated concerns about media independence.

Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said: “We received translations of the new constitution this morning [3 January], and our legal experts are examining them to assess whether our concerns have been addressed.”

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