EU adds justice system reform to precondition for Hungary bailout
Brussels - The European Union asked Hungary on Friday to prove that a series of constitutional reforms did not undermine the independence of its justice system as an additional precondition to launching bailout talks.
'Hungary must take concrete steps to ensure the full independence of the central bank and the reliable functioning of the judicial system,' a spokesman for EU Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn told reporters.
Rehn delivered the message to Tamas Fellegi, Hungary's minister in charge of bailout talks, during a meeting in Brussels, the spokesman, Amadeu Altafaj, said.
The EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) had previously conditioned bailout talks only on Hungary proving that its reforms do not undermine the independence of its central bank.
'The rule of law and legal certainty are also crucial for sound economic development, and that implies full independence and reliable functioning of the judicial system,' Altafaj said Friday.
The new condition piles more pressure on Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who faces accusations at home and abroad of undermining democracy.
The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, this week started legal action over three Hungarian constitutional reforms it said violate EU law. The laws relate to the central bank, the retirement of judges and data protection.