“We welcome this parliamentary committee vote, which shows that MEPs are ready to defend the European democratic model,” said Julie Majerczak, RSF’s representative in Brussels.“As Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán continues to deliberately turn his back on European values, the European Union cannot remain with its arms crossed; it must act. As a matter of urgency, the EU must make Budapest understand that you cannot question the separation of powers, judicial independence or press freedom and keep attacking NGOs.”
Threats to media freedom are among the 12 main concerns listed in a parliamentary report about the critical situation in Hungary, where media freedom continues to deteriorate alarmingly.
The weekly Heti Valasz closed at the start of June. The leading daily Magyar Nemzet closed in April. Businessmen allied with Orbán acquired all of the regional dailies last year, ahead of the parliamentary elections held in April of this year.
These pro-government oligarchs now have dominant and almost monopolistic control of most media, including local dailies, tabloids, national TV channels, news websites and political weeklies. And Orbán has long been using the state radio and TV stations as his propaganda mouthpieces.
For the Article 7 disciplinary process to be triggered against Hungary, two thirds of MEPs would have to vote in favour in plenary session of the parliament. This is far from certain. Orbán’s party, Fidesz, is a member of the largest political group in the parliament, the European People’s party (EPP). The vote is expected to take place in September.
Hungary is ranked 73rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.