One of the European Union’s most powerful instruments, the Article 7 procedure, is needed because there is still a risk of systematic violations of European values in Hungary, European Commissioner for Transparency and Values Vera Jourová said in Brussels on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of EU ministers responsible for general affairs, she stressed that the procedure would not be closed as long as the concerns persist and as long as Hungary has not delivered the results required by the European Commission. Vera Jourová said that the European Commission has not seen any progress in implementing the proposals to ensure the independence of the ombudsman and the public media, among others, and that Hungary must meet the ‘super milestones’ required to mobilize recovery funds.
Asked if the European Parliament would debate and vote this week on a motion to prevent Hungary from holding the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2024, Jourová said the EP’s motion was not on the agenda of the General Affairs Council. The European Commission will act in accordance with the EU treaties, she added.
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting,
EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders also said that there had been some improvements, but that concerns remained about the rule of law in Hungary and Poland.
Austrian EU Affairs Minister Karoline Edtstadler said that all member states have equal rights and obligations, including the presidency of the Council, for which Hungary must now prepare. “We have to deal with the rule of law within the framework of the Article 7 procedure or conditionality rules. As for the presidency, this is an opportunity for Hungary to show, and indeed must show, that it is pro-European and capable of promoting common causes not only for its own interests, but also for the EU’s interests,” she said.
However, German State Secretary for EU Affairs Anna Lührmann expressed doubts about the Hungarian EU Presidency. She said Hungary is currently isolated in the EU because of serious problems with the rule of law and its reluctance to stand by Ukraine, which is suffering from a war of aggression. Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra also expressed “uncomfortable feelings” about the Hungarian EU presidency.
Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said the European Parliament wanted to prevent Hungary from holding the EU Council presidency in the second half of 2024 because the institution’s left-wing majority did not like Hungary’s pro-peace stance. According to her,
the EP’s initiative shows the frustration of the institution, as one of the priorities of the Hungarian Council presidency will be to monitor the rule of law and the rule of law principles in the work of the EU institutions.
Hungary wants to check, among other things, whether the European Parliament, which is “bathed in corruption scandals,” is abiding by its own rules and EU legal principles. It also wants to check whether the European Parliament is serving the interests of European democracy and European citizens, or its own interests in power, the Justice Minister emphasized.
Judit Varga called Tuesday’s hearing “a sick and tired procedure.” She said
it was clear that the procedure, which was launched five years ago at the initiative of the EP, was still a case of political pressure.
The European Parliament must be treated in its proper place. The EP always wants to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Instead of addressing the needs of their own constituents, some European politicians are attacking the democratically elected government and voters of a country. This is why it is most important that European citizens learn their lessons and have their say in the European Parliament elections due early next summer, underlined Judit Varga.
Featured photo via Twitter/Vera Jourová