EU unity in TATTERS: Ursula von der Leyen flounders as MEP warns Brussels ‘undermined’

Ursula von der Leyen left without seat at signing event

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Despite repeated attacks on Hungary over its rule of law, the European Commission president has been savaged for her failure to punish the state. Following the introduction of a new law banning materials featuring homosexuality, one MEP has criticised Ms von der Leyen for failing to take action against Hungary. With Hungary continuing to go against the warnings of the Commission for violating the EU’s values, German MEP Sven Giegold claimed Ms von der Leyen has allowed member states to undermine the bloc.

He said: “Von der Leyen did not announce one new actual measure.

“The basic problem in dealing with rule of law problems in EU countries is a lack of consequences.

“The EU Commission does too little and acts too slowly.

“Not only in Hungary, but also in Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus.

“The EU Commission’s hesitant and inconsistent action will not stop any government in Europe from undermining the rule of law.”

The EU had demanded Hungary revoke the new law which came into force today.

Although Ms von der Leyen condemned the new legislation, MEPs have demanded the Commission President go further and withhold funds linked to the new coronavirus recovery budget.

After intense negotiations, EU member states agreed to create a new mechanism linking the funding to Rule of Law proceedings, although the mechanism was weaker than initially hoped.

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Under Article 7 of the Treaty of Europe, the EU can suspend the rights and obligations of a member state if it violates the bloc’s ethics and values.

Both Hungary and Poland have been under rule of law proceedings due to allegations of a crackdown on homosexuality, restricting the freedom of the press and the independence of judges in the latter.

Ms von der Leyen said today: “Homosexuality is equated with pornography.

“This legislation uses the protection of children as an excuse to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. It is a disgrace.”

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In response, Hungary’s Prime Minister has insisted the EU should not interfere in national matters.

Such is the EU’s lack of action over the matter, Europhile MEP Guy Verhofstadt issued his anger towards the Commission.

He said in the EU Parliament: “Three years it took the European Council to hold a debate on Hungary – no conclusions or actions yet.

“I am stunned & angry: time to stop Hungary’s anti-LGBT law, time to fully use Article 7!”

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The Hungarian government has claimed the anti-LGBT law is aimed at protecting children.

Fourteen member states have previously criticised the new law, while just Slovenia and Poland have supported Hungary.

Ms von der Leyen added: “We cannot just stand aside while whole regions declare themselves as ‘LGBTIQ free zones’.

“Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatised.

“When we stand up for parts of our society, we stand up for the freedom of our society as a whole.

“We might not agree on all aspects of a law.

“But we have to agree on respecting the judgments of independent courts and the primacy of EU law.”

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