Thursday, 20 January 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
35. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs his position regarding recent proposals in Hungary that would restrict the right to freedom of speech and the implications from this that arise for the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union which has just begun. [2865/11]
Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Brian Cowen): Widespread international concern has been expressed about the “Law on Media Services and Mass Communication” recently introduced by the Hungarian government, including suggestions that the legislation could undermine the EU’s capacity to advocate in favour of freedom of expression in third countries. The Irish Government, understandably, would be concerned at such suggestions. The European Commission has written to the Hungarian government, seeking further information on the new legislation and in particular its compatibility with, and conformity to, European legislation. In an initial response, the Hungarian government has maintained that the provisions of the new law are similar to those contained in legislation on supervision of the media adopted by other European countries and that it considers the law to be in line with EU legislation.
Speaking after his meeting with the Hungarian government on 7 January in Budapest, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that he had “ received assurances from the (Hungarian) Prime Minister that the law is drawn up, and will be implemented, in full respect of European Union values on media freedom and relevant EU legislation”, and that “the Prime Minister equally made clear that adjustments would be made, should the Commission, after a legal assessment, find that this is not the case for all aspects of the law”. The Government will closely follow the Commission’s assessment of the legislation.
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