Rescue Package for Fundamental Rights: Comments by MATTIAS KUMM

Hungarian Premier Victor Orban and his ruling party Fidesz, after having received 53% of the votes in the previous election but 68% of parliamentary seats, have transformed Hungarian institutions, effectively asserting and entrenching control over courts and the justice system, the media and the electoral system to align them with the interests of the ruling party (Jan-Werner Müller and Kim Lane Scheppele have provided compelling descriptions).

This slide to authoritarianism should be a concern to constitutionalists, wherever it occurs, but it should be of special concern to EU citizens. Because Hungary is a Member of the EU, Hungarian citizens are also EU citizens, Hungarian courts are also adjudicators and implementors of EU Law, Hungarian Members of the government are also European legislators.

So what remedies do European citizens have, as Hungarians, as non-Hungarians living in Hungary or as non-Hungarians partially governed by EU laws in which Hungarian officials have participated, to ensure that their rights are respected everywhere in Europe and they are part of a community that takes seriously its commitment to democracy and the rule of law, as Art. 2 TEU asserts? Assuming that national remedies have been exhausted and have turned out to be futile and that politically the channels of political change are effectively blocked on the national level by rules drawn up to entrench the power of the ruling party, what remedies do European citizens have?

According to the Heidelberg proposal European citizens should be able to rely on their human rights as interpreted by European institutions against infringing acts of states like Hungary. The significance of such an option should be clear in light of the weakness of alternative remedies: Without such a possibility citizens could not bring an EU human rights claim based on EU Human Rights, unless the actions of the Hungarian government fell under the scope of EU Law ...

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