Wednesday 5 January 2011

EPP president Wilfried Martens versus Free Press for Hungary

A short while ago 2,129 persons had already joined the new Facebook group Free Press For Hungary. International Version.

Established earlier, the Hungarian version had attracted 54,834 supporters against the authoritarian media law of the government of Viktor Orban.

There are many convincing media reports and blog posts about the essentials of the Hungarian censorship law, but translations into English and other EU languages would be most welcome for those who want to study the legislation in detail.

EPP ”dominant position”

The European People's Party likes to remind editors of its importance:

The EPP is the largest and most influential European-level political party of the centre-right, which currently includes 73 member-parties from 39 countries, the Presidents of the Commission, Council, and Parliament, 14 EU and 6 non-EU heads of state and government, 13 members of the European Commission and the largest Group in the European Parliament.

Update 2, 5 January 2011: Actually even this note is too modest. If the president of the Council means the rotating presidency, now held by EPP member party Fidesz in the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban, the text forgets to mention the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.

From EU competition law and policy we know the concept ”abuse of a dominant position”.

We have seen all too many examples of cronyism, turning a blind eye and abdication of responsiblity from the EPP in various situations.

This is why we have to ask: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Top down reform

The real low water mark internationally was recorded by the EPP chairman Wilfried Martens who actively lauded the Hungarian media (censorship) law as an improvement ”with the aim to strengthen the freedom of the press, the culture of respect, the protection of minors and human dignity”.

I would like to see the biggest Europarty, the European People's Party, taking the greatest responsibility for our basic values, but instead I realise the need for a crash course from the top down concerning the European Convention on Human Rigths (ECHR), the founding values of the European Union (Article 2 TEU), the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rigths of the European Union (Article 6 TEU) and the process to start determining a serious breach of the founding values (Article 7 TEU).

They are the cornerstones of European integration and for the citizens of the European Union, and they should be for the EPP (otherwise it is ineligible for Europarty funds).

Perhaps EU citizens could tweet @MartensEPP before his Europarty has become even more discredited.

I am not against the European People's Party. On the contrary, I want a better EPP and a better EU for voters, citizens and businesses of the European Union. Taking a principled approach is the only salvation from the current morass.

Update 5 January 2011: Thanks to Andreas Müllerleile who pointed out an English translation of the Hungarian Act on Media Services and Mass Media (about 200 pages).

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Despite the diminished stature of the presidency of the Council of the European Union, the government of Hungary has deservedly gained an astonishing amount of visibility in a few days, as seen on the front page of, the multiligual aggregator of 729 Euroblogs. Should we congratulate PM Orban on the achievement?

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