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Hungary/new constitution

Published on January 13, 2012
Replies by the Minister responsible for European Affairs, Jean Leonetti, to questions in the National Assembly (excerpts)

Paris, January 11, 2012

You’ve mentioned the issue of Hungary. (…)

You’re right to say that being European isn’t solely about belonging to an economic or financial union. It is about sharing values. (…)

You recalled that M. Alain Juppé, the Ministre d’Etat, had himself spoken about the problem; he also proposed that the Hungarian government participate in a working group to see how the constitution and those laws that pose a problem could be modified.

Next week I’ll be meeting the Hungarian government’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs [Zsolt Németh], to discuss with him, in frank terms, the issues you mentioned.

Ultimately, the European Commission is the guardian of the treaties. It bears the responsibility to react, which it is doing. It’s going to send Hungary three reminder letters concerning the status of judges, respect for personal data and the central bank’s status. It is responsible for proposing a number of sanctions if there’s no response from Hungary.

So you see, both France and Europe are reacting, in the framework of the law and the treaties, to ensure respect for what we’re all committed to: democracy, freedom and human rights. (…)

Your concern about the situation in Hungary is legitimate. The problem is how to act, and in what way, to ensure that this is as effective as possible, and above all to ensure that Hungary’s laws and constitution comply with the treaties signed in the European Union.

As you know, M. Alain Juppé, the Ministre d’Etat, has spoken about this, and I’ll be meeting Mr Németh next week to discuss all these problems; our talks will be open but also frank.

The second major element concerns what action the Commission can carry out. It’s the Commission that is the guardian of the treaties; it is the one that can act, and it must do so. It explained today that it was sending three letters of formal notice about elements of the Hungarian legislation that do not comply with the treaties.

As you know, the action on this must be balanced. France must be vigilant as regards democracy and respect for the rule of law. She must carry out consultation with the Hungarian government, which I nevertheless remind you was democratically elected. Finally, we must be supportive of the Hungarian people, who for a long time lived under the yoke of the Soviet Union in a totalitarian communist regime.

Today, we must give priority to democracy, consultation and solidarity with all European peoples./.

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