Page last updated at 18:20 GMT, Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ministers voice concerns over Hungary reforms

Ministers have raised concerns to the Hungarian government about the risk of controversial reforms in the country sparking fresh economic instability, Europe Minister David Lidington has told MPs.

The European Commission has launched legal action against Hungary over new laws which it believes risk the independence of the country's central bank and break EU rules.

Prime Minister Vikor Orban, whose Fidesz party has a two thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament, has also proposed controversial changes to the judiciary and data protection laws.

Speaking at Foreign Office questions on 17 January 2012, Mr Lidington told MPs that he had raised "concerns expressed in a number of quarters" with his Hungarian opposite number and EU commissioners.

He was responding to a question from Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who asked if ministers had considered the impact that Hungary's actions could have on the EU economy.

"Have you reminded the government that there is an expectation that all EU members adhere to normal democratic norms?" Mr Bradshaw asked.

"We are certainly concerned about any developments in other EU member states which might lead to even greater economic instability than we have currently seen," Mr Lidington replied.

He told MPs that the Hungarian government had confirmed it would "carefully and constructively" consider any comments made by the European Commission.

"I believe that is the right way forward", Mr Lidington concluded.

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has been given one month to respond to the Commission's concerns.

Mr Orban is due to address MEPs in a debate on the controversial reforms in the European Parliament on 18 January.

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