Minister of Justice László Trócsányi participated at the 103rd Plenary Session of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe in Venice, Italy on 19 June 2015.

The European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) has examined the Hungarian media legislation and the regulation on the advertisement taxation. The 30 pages long expert opinion acknowledges the development of the Hungarian media legislation and suggested to adopt several recommendations mostly aiming at the better enforcement of the reviewed legislation.

Minister László Trócsányi earlier has earlier proposed several amendments to the draft opinion in a letter sent to the Secretary of the Venice Commission, Thomas Markert. The rapporteurs accepted most of the proposed amendments prior to the Plenary Session during their meeting 18 June and held a consultation meeting with the Minister.

During the Plenary Session on 19 June Minister László Trócsányi thanked in his intervention the thorough work of the Commission and its recommendations. He quoted Thorbjørn Jagland’s statement made on 29 January 2013 in which the Secretary General acknowledged the significant improvement of the Hungarian regulation on the media.

Minister Trócsányi drew the Commission’s attention that both the Hungarian Government and he personally are open to further dialogue with the political opposition. He also welcomed the amendments adopted by the Commission. He underlined that the principle of proportionality had been ruled at the constitutional level, and that the code of conduct had been mentioned in the draft opinion along with the recommendations of the Media Council. Moreover, he added that the observations on withdrawing interviews and the protection of journalistic sources had been reviewed. He stated that the objections to the composition of the Media Council had been reconsidered and had taken into account the necessity for high professional standards. The text also contains the fact that the Hungarian media laws have never been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights.

Minister László Trócsányi closed his remarks with the findings of DGAP (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik) German Council on Foreign Relations, published in the report “Hungary in the Media, 2010–2014”. The report (also available on the internet) declares that: “[…]both freedom and diversity of the press are present in Hungary and that neither control nor censorship are practiced. The experts further verified that Hungary is home to a pluralistic, if at times highly polarized media landscape.”

More than 80% of the amendments proposed by the Hungarian Government have been adopted by the Commission on the Plenary. Ben Vermeulen, Chairman of the Fundamental Rights Sub-commission highlighted that some articles of the report are the result of an elegant compromise.

The official opinion of the Venice Commission will be published on 22 June 2015.

(Ministry of Justice)