CIvil Society Europe wrote to Mr Weber as Chairman on the EPP Group at the European Parliament ahead of the vote in plenary:
Dear Mr Weber,
I have read with great interest the proposal for a motion for resolution on the situation in Hungary that you have tabled on behalf of the EPP Group.
As you may know Civil Society Europe has issued a statement of solidarity to Hungarian people and civil society organisations as a follow up of the presentation by the Hungarian Government of an Act on the Transparency of Organisations receiving support from abroad. Our statement has received up to date the support of 516 organisations across Europe.
We are extremely concerned about the situation of shrinking civic space in Hungary as documented in the CSE briefing, as well as developments as concerns education and media freedom. The situation on the ground also shows that such restrictions affect all civil society organisations, including those representing most discriminated groups in society or active in grassroots projects.
We welcome the call in your proposal for protection of the freedom of association and the recognition of the role played by “a vibrant civil society sector in promoting public participation in the democratic process and accountability of governments towards their legal obligations, including the protection of fundamental rights, the environment and the fights against corruption”.
We also welcome the call to the Hungarian Government to follow the recommendations of the Council of Europe resolution of 27 April.
However we believe that an EP resolution should also explicitly call on the Hungarian government to withdraw both the national higher education law and the Draft Act on the Transparency of Organisations supported from Abroad. Both are clearly in breach of democratic principles and European values, as documented amongst others in the legal opinion of the Expert Council on NGO law to the Council of Europe INGO Conference. The EP should also call on the Hungarian government to end the “stop Brussels campaign” and other efforts to close civic space.
Furthermore, given the gravity of the situation and the risk of further deterioration in other countries, we insist on the need for the European Parliament to ask the Commission to trigger Article 7 with no further delay
Furthermore, in the light of the Hungarian government’s persistent attacks on fundamental rights and shared European values it is critical to send a unified message from all democratic political forces to the Hungarian Government.
We strongly believe that the issues at stake are too important and that all Europeans that believe in the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union should work together across party lines in order to create a common European front against rampant illiberalism.
Human rights and civic freedoms are not a partisan issue as the Prime Minister of Hungary seems to suggest. We trust you agree.