Hungarian MEPs of the European People’s Party (EPP) on Friday rejected the liberal group’s concerns about Hungary’s new constitution, insisting its statements were “biased, based on false information and contain[ed] serious misinterpretations”.
The liberal group said earlier on Friday that the constitution, due to be approved by Parliament on Monday, would pose a grave threat to many fundamental European Union values.
“We hold fundamental human rights to be absolute, and a wording that opens the possibility of their limitations is unacceptable for a member state that has signed up to the full body of EU law,” group leader Guy Verhofstadt said in a statement sent to MTI.
The Belgian ex-premier said it was everyone’s interest that the “constitution [should] not become a Trojan horse for a more authoritarian political system in Hungary.”
The Hungarian EPP deputies said, however, that the draft “is built upon common European traditions and values; on the respect of human dignity and freedom rights, and on the principles of democracy and rule of law. It incorporates the achievements of the Lisbon Treaty, and stands up for European integration and unity”.
Verhofstadt, however, called on Hungary to submit the text of the new law to the European Commission for evaluation and to revise any parts that do not conform to EU values.
He criticised the draft for lacking any mention of prohibition of discrimination, as well as the way notions such as marriage and family are defined. He also slammed restrictions to the powers of the Constitutional Court set down in the basic law.
The liberals said the protection of the life of the foetus from the time of conception would be tantamount to a ban on abortion, and that the definition of the Hungarian nation, including Hungarians living abroad, could easily give way to irredentist acts that potentially harm the sovereignty of other countries.
The Hungarian MEPs firmly rejected both charges.
Verhofstadt criticised the whole process of drafting lacked transparency, flexibility, a spirit of compromise and sufficient time for debate, the statement added.
The Hungarian MEPs argued, however, that the idea of a new constitution had been on the agenda for 20 years and drafting had been preceded by a comprehensive social consultation.
Verhofstadt indicated the liberals’ reservations earlier this month to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The Commission’s president said at that time that the process of drafting a constitution falls within the competence of the population and institutions of the member states, which are obliged to respect the common values of the EU.
Thousands of demonstrators started a protest on Friday against the governing party alliance’s re-write of the basic law, which is expected to be passed, thanks to the ruling Fidesz-Christian alliance’s two-thirds parliamentary majority.
The law includes provisions which economists and investors have praised, such as putting a ceiling on the public debt set at 50 percent of gross domestic product, which is expected to lead to an improvement in the state finances.
But other measures, such as the stipulation that marriage is between a man and woman and a passage which could pave the way for tighter abortion rules have angered liberals.