BRUSSELS — The United Nations' human rights envoy in Europe is warning that Hungary and Poland's clampdown on the judiciary, media and human rights risks spreading throughout the European Union.

Regional Representative for Europe Birgit Van Hout expressed concern Tuesday that backsliding on rights and rule of law is also happening in Austria, Italy, Malta, Romania and Slovakia.

She told reporters that "this is about the erosion of democracy in Europe" and warned of "a domino effect" that could undermine European values.

Van Hout said human rights defenders are under increasing pressure.

She welcomed the EU's rule of law action against Poland — which could limit its voting rights — as "better than nothing," and called on business leaders to make their voices heard about abuses.