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Time to kill the coronavirus, not democracy, EU tells Hungary

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Time to kill the coronavirus, not democracy, EU tells Hungary

The European Commission said on Thursday (2) to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, that the emergency powers he received to combat the coronavirus outbreak create the risk of undermining democracy and need to be subjected to due parliamentary surveillance and of the media.

On Monday, Orbán obtained unrestricted powers to govern with executive decrees, and a new law states that anyone the government considers to be spreading false information about fighting the pandemic can be jailed for up to five years.

Read also: World has 1 million cases of coronavirus, says university

More than a dozen European Union member countries, including Germany, Italy, Spain and France, expressed fears that the new law would be used to muzzle critical journalists in Orbán.

Care for democracy

"Now is the time to kill the coronavirus, not the time to kill democracy," said Vera Jourova, a Czech member of the European Commission, the bloc's executive, who has a responsibility to preserve the EU's values ​​and transparency.

"When governments acquire powers to manage a crisis, they should be under democratic control. Usually, this is done by Parliaments and the independent media," she told Reuters.

"These are the safeguards that should be in place when Member States initiate emergency regimes".

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also said that Orbán's powers could be excessive.

"These emergency measures have to be limited to what is necessary, they have to be strictly proportional … they should not last indefinitely and, which is very important, they should be subject to constant surveillance," she said in a statement. Press conference.

Donald Tusk, leader of the center-right European People's Party in the European Parliament, said in a letter to group members that they should again consider expelling Orbán's Fidesz party when the coronavirus crisis is over.

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