Last March, when Orbán put in place the state of emergency, as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak, I already expressed grave concerns because it gave the government the power to rule by decree without any end date.
Unfortunately, this is will not end any time soon. A few days ago, the Hungarian government presented a 250-page legislation to end the state of emergency and enter a “transition phase”.
When you look closer, this new legislation would actually allow Orbán’s government to rule by decree for another indefinite period of time and without the minimum constitutional guarantees.
Several NGOs also warn that, in addition to the current powers to persecute authors of “false information” on the authorities’ handling of the crisis, the government also would also be able to restrict fundamental rights by unilaterally banning free movement or right of assembly in future states of emergency.
This is yet another serious breach of the rule of law in Hungary, which undermines our fundamental rights and our core democratic values. We must be particularly alert to the misuse of powers but also of misuse of public money in emergency situations.
Indeed, a recent report of the Corruption Research Centre Budapest (CRCB) says that corruption in Hungarian public procurement during the first four months of 2020 “reached the highest level since 2005: by April 30, the share of contracts without competition was 41 per cent”.
This is why, I am working in the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament on enhancing the preventive measures to avoid corruption of emergency funds, through an own initiative report to be presented to the Commission in the coming months.
Statement from Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International Hungary:
Report of the Corruption Research Centre Budapest (CRCB):
Relevant press coverage:
Article from a fellow Member of the European Parliament, Mr Csaba Molnár: