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EU says Hungary fails to reinstate judges, prosecutors that it forced into early retirement

Hungary has failed to reinstate judges and prosecutors it forced into early retirement in breach of EU law, the European Union's justice chief said Wednesday, as she faced increasing pressure to punish Budapest for constitutional changes many condemn as undemocratic.

Hungary has undone some previous legislation on forced retirement but has yet to give judicial officials their jobs back, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said.

Since the Hungarian legislation was deemed incompatible with EU law last November, Budapest has been asked to implement "the judgment of the court swiftly and in full," she said.

Hungary's government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban has courted criticism from the EU over attempts to increase his executive control, ranging from limiting the central bank's independence to curbing media freedom. Last week, the EU told Hungary it has serious concerns about constitutional changes pushed through last month and that have widely been seen as undermining EU principles on the rule of law.

"Hungary is trampling over our common values and denying them to its citizens," said Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal ALDE group in Europe's Parliament said.

He insisted Reding should take a much tougher stand than relying on the legal analysis it is currently conducting.

"How can we ... sincerely continue believing in a government that, disregarding all our warnings, keeps introducing new amendments incompatible with EU laws and our European values?," Verhofstadt said.

However, Reding insisted action could come within the next month if Hungary was found to flout EU law again. After an initial review, the EU Commission already wrote a strong letter to Orban last Friday, insisting they address the legal criticism as soon as possible.

Constitutional changes passed last month include bans on political campaign ads on private television and radio, the possibility of fining or jailing homeless people for living on the street and a narrow definition of family — which were earlier found to be unconstitutional by Hungary's highest court.