On Wednesday the government turned to the Court of Justice of the European Union because it disputes the legality of the adoption of the Sargentini report in the European Parliament, Justice Minister László Trócsányi announced at a press conference in Budapest.

According to the Hungarian position, the vote in the European Parliament which sought to trigger the procedure under Article Seven of the Treaties of the European Union before the European Council did not yield the required two-thirds majority as abstentions should be treated as votes cast, the Minister argued.

The European Parliament failed to comply even with its own rules, he added.

Mr Trócsányi observed that the report concerned with the state of the rule of law in Hungary is emotionally charged and disregards facts, and therefore they also dispute its content. One reason for the report may be that the government has a firm position on the issue of migration which it does not intend to change, he indicated.

According to the decision of the Wednesday cabinet meeting, however, they have turned to the Luxembourg-based court of the EU because the very adoption of the report was contrary to the relevant rules.

According to the Minister, it is an absolutely clear provision that abstentions, too, must be taken into consideration, abstentions, too, qualify as votes, and in actual fact they qualify as votes against. Based on this, the EP vote did not yield the required two-thirds majority. This is a very important precedent case as the EU is a legal community, and if Member States are expected to observe the rules, the institutions of the EU, including the European Parliament, too, are expected to do so.

It is shocking that only two days before the vote the European Parliament was not yet aware of the rules under which the vote would be held, and had to seek legal advice. Its entire procedure stands in violation of legal security and the principle of cooperation in good faith, the Minister pointed out. Due to these considerations, on Wednesday the Hungarian cabinet filed its action with the Court of Justice of the European Union with respect to the adoption of the Sargentini report.

In answer to a journalist’s question, Mr Trócsányi said that if the Luxembourg-based court grants the Hungarian action, there is no Sargentini report, and there are no grounds for the institution of a procedure under Article Seven.

In answer to another question, the Minister said that they will appeal against the court decision related to the monopolisation of the textbook market because according to the Hungarian position, in this case the market in question is a state market which was transformed by the state. At the same time, the changes implemented have significantly reduced the expenditures of families.

The report compiled by Dutch member of the Greens Group in the European Parliament Judith Sargentini identified a number of criticisms regarding the state of the rule of law in Hungary, including the functioning of the constitutional and election systems, the independence of the judiciary, corruption, freedom of speech and freedom of academia. The report was adopted by the competent committee of the EP in June as well as by its plenary meeting in September with a large majority. At the plenary meeting there were 448 votes for the report, 197 votes against and 48 abstentions.