Editorial of the “World”. Three days after being implicated in the global Pegasus surveillance scandal, twenty-four hours after being singled out again by the European Commission for its abuses in the rule of law, Viktor Orban announced, Wednesday 21 July, the calling of a referendum on its much contested law on LGBT content, which has not ceased to cause a scandal since its adoption in June. Accusing ” Brussels “ having “Clearly attacked Hungary”, the nationalist prime minister launched one of his favorite scenes intended to weld his voters against an alleged threat coming from “Western Europe”.
The questions submitted to the Hungarians, totally biased, are made to try to obtain a plebiscite in the face of the sanctioning procedure launched by the Commission against its law prohibiting “Show homosexuality or gender change” to minors. The announcement of the referendum is also used as a diversion after the revelations, Sunday July 18, of the “Project Pegasus”, to which The world participates.
In recent years, using Israeli spyware, Hungary has placed under surveillance several investigative journalists, businessmen and opponents, all known to be critical of Viktor Orban.
For several years now, the former anti-Communist dissident, who has become the hero of the European far right, has been undermining the pillars of the rule of law. Attacks on media pluralism, bringing justice into line, stigmatization of homosexuals and migrants, each of his provocations constitutes a challenge for his European partners. In June, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, went so far as to declare that Hungary had “More its place in the European Union (EU)”.
A first step
At this stage, however, the hypothesis of exclusion appears excessive: if the EU wants to embody stability after the traumatic episode of Brexit, it can hardly separate from one of its members on the sole ground that he does not. respect its values more. In addition to the fact that the sanction would be unfair for the many Hungarians who do not share Mr Orban’s views, it would risk causing a domino effect: Poland too is regularly singled out due – in particular – to the pressures which are taking place. exert on opponents of the regime.
On the other hand, the EU must put an end to naivety. The rule of law conditionality mechanism, associated with the European recovery plan, is a first step on this path. In theory, it could allow the Commission to decide on preventive financial sanctions if Hungary, like Poland, is not able to prove that it has a judicial system to effectively fight corruption, even at the highest level.
But the procedure is still not in application, Brussels still waiting for a final appeal to be decided by the Luxembourg Court of Justice. Its scope is also far too limited: for example, it cannot be applied to freedom of the press or to the protection of the rights of ethnic or sexual minorities.
Therefore, the EU must question the effectiveness of the tedious infringement procedures that Viktor Orban does not hesitate to circumvent when he is ultimately sentenced in Luxembourg. Alternative solutions exist, such as finally making public the European reports on the enrichment of relatives of the Hungarian Prime Minister, prohibiting them from benefiting from European funds, or even sanctioning them individually. We can bet that the most ardent supporters of Mr. Orban will be grateful to Brussels for having opened their eyes.