At the 16/17 December 2010 European Council a political decision was taken to amend the Treaties through the simplified revision procedure of article 48(6) TFEU. On March 25, 2011 the European Council adopted the legal decision to amend article 136 TFEU by adding a new third paragraph: “The Member States whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.”
The process of approval of this decision by the member states in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements as prescribed by article 48(6) has been completed and the amendment has entered into force on 1 May 2013.
What political/legal difficulties did Hungary encounter in the negotiation of the amendment of article 136 TFEU?
The amendment was initiated just before Hungary started its half year presidency of the EU on January 1st, 2011. Enikő Győri, State Secretary for European Affairs said: ‘Budapest would not like to re-negotiate the treaty of Lisbon’. According to her, Hungary could support only minor amendments to the Treaty. ‘Nobody was interested in opening Pandora’s box.’
After these statements the Government (probably under German pressure) changed its opinion and supported the amendment, without any major change in the text. Some Hungarian governmental politicians said that they were supporting it in the beginning; it was only the press that misinterpreted their statements.
During the negotiation process the Government was free to act according to its own standards, because there was no debate in the Parliament about the issue.
How has the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment been approved in Hungary and on what legal basis/argumentation?
In Hungary, the implementation of European norms is carried out by the Parliament. According to Article E Paragraph 4 of the Fundamental Act of Hungary, the authorization to recognize the binding nature of an international agreement in which Hungary exercises its national sovereignty jointly with the European Union requires a two-thirds majority of the votes of the Members of Parliament. The paragraph names the Founding Treaties as such international treaties.
The amendment of the 136 TFEU Treaty was introduced into the Hungarian legal system by Act IX of 2012, voted on 27 February 2012. During the application procedure debates were limited: the act was proposed by the Government, and was accepted without amendments, with 320 for it, 40 against it and 0 abstentions. All the votes against the act came from the eurosceptic, far right party Jobbik.
The Treaty Amendment is an international treaty that delegates parts of national sovereignty to the European Union and therefore it has to be incorporated into the Hungarian legal system by a parliamentary act voted by the two-third majority. This criterion was fulfilled and the cardinal act (see also on this concept question III.1) was accepted by the required majority.
What political/legal difficulties did Hungary encounter during the ratification of the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?
Before approving the amendment, the Hungarian Parliament debated the issue. The Governing parties supported the amendment during the debate on 27 February 2012. The debate and the approval took place on the same day.
As the proposer of the act, the Government emphasized that the mechanism incorporated in the European law by the amendment is only binding on Eurozone member states, therefore the ratification imposes no legal commitments on Hungary until it joins the Eurozone in the future. The Government supported the amendment on the basis that it provides a strong mechanism to reach economic and monetary stability for Eurozone member states, which must be a high priority for Hungary as well. The Government pointed out that the amendment would not widen the scope of powers of the European Union.
During the parliamentary debate, members of Jobbik criticized the amendment because according to their views it was a major step towards the forming of a United States of Europe, which is contrary to the interests of Hungary. The Jobbik Party argued that the voting of the amendment caused a political crisis in Slovakia and even though the amendment is not binding on Hungary yet, it will be at the moment the country joins the Eurozone, and then Hungary will be the subject of strong liabilities introduced by the amendment. The reasoning of Jobbik was inaccurate, since the amendment became binding on Hungary after the ratification, however ESM would be binding on Hungary after a future ratification following its join to the Eurozone.
Other parties in the Parliament supported the government on the issue, on the basis that a strong Eurozone is a priority for Hungary because of its dependence onother member states.
The importance of the issue for MPs is demonstrated by the fact that the act approving the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment was accepted after a debate in which three MPs and the under-secretary for Foreign Affairs held speeches for approximately 20 minutes all together.
The Government argued in Parliament that the treaty amendment increases the role of national Parliaments and opens up the opportunity for democratic debate. The Minister of Foreign affairs said: ‘there is no real alternative for Hungary but supporting the Treaty amendment’.
Is there a (constitutional) court judgment in Hungary on the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?
No, there is not any.
What other information is relevant with regard to Hungary and the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?
No other relevant information.