Once again, the issue of Hungary’s EU funds was on the European Parliament’s agenda. Liberal MEPs say the Hungarian government is blackmailing the EU, while conservative politicians say it is Brussels that is exerting ideological pressure.
Members of the European Parliament held a plenary debate entitled “Assessment of Hungary’s compliance with the rule of law conditions under the Conditionality Regulation and state of play of the Hungarian Recovery and Resilience Plan,” on Monday.
“The European Commission believes that if the measures envisaged to address the EU’s concerns are implemented correctly, fully and effectively by Hungary, they are capable of solving the problems at hand,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders stressed during the debate. He stated that the Commission’s aim in applying the conditionality regulation is to improve and strengthen the rule of law in Hungary.
We will not give way until we are satisfied that the EU budget is protected,
Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ’t Veld urged the Commission to “show more backbone,” because according to her, “even a child can see that the 17 very weak conditions for the release of funds have not remotely been met.” She accused the Hungarian Prime Minister of blackmailing the European Union. The MEP did not elaborate on this claim, but previously, several MEPs have accused the Hungarian government of blackmailing the EU to release the funds by refusing to support another joint borrowing to aid Ukraine. However, members of the government have made it clear that Hungary refuses to support the joint borrowing out of principle.
Katalin Cseh, MEP of Hungary’s liberal Momentum party called the withholding of Hungary’s EU funds “a historic chance, a historic moment to slow down or even reverse Hungary’s rapid slide into authoritarianism.” She urged the Commission to direct the EU funds to local governments, civil society, schools, and hospitals, instead of the government. In recent years, the Hungarian opposition has repeatedly asked the EU-Republican Commission to bypass the government in paying out the funds, but this is not possible under the treaties. There are, however, funds for which it is possible to apply directly, but these may not be the funds in question.
French MEP Gilles Lebreton (National Rally) said that the EU institutions are exercising ideological tutelage over Hungary. According to the politician, if Viktor Orbán uses his vetos to push the EU towards releasing the funds Hungary is entitled to, then he is right to do so. “Like every state, Hungary has the right to defend its vital interests. I therefore unambiguously support Viktor Orbán in his struggle against the EU,” he added.
Polish MEP Patryk Jaki (United Poland) accused the European institutions of using double standards.
Does democracy in Hungary look worse than the one in Germany, where elections have just had to be repeated due to so much fraud? Is it worse than in Slovakia or Malta, where journalists were murdered? Are the universities and the media more subservient than the leftist ones in your country, where, if one thinks differently, one is immediately canceled?”,
the Polish politician asked, referring to the murder of Ján Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia, and to the news that the Berlin regional elections must be rerun.
According to Jaki, the real problem the EU institutions have with Hungary is that “they are defending religion, the traditional values on which Western civilization was built. They are defending children from demoralization, and they are defending nations from a European state in which democracy will look just as we see it in this house.”
Tamás Deutsch, head of governing Fidesz party’s delegation, said that “the European left is once again – instead of proposing solutions to real problems – focusing on vilifying Hungary, with sick political blindness.” According to Deutsch, the EP’s left-liberal majority is losing the political war against Hungarians, so it is attacking the Commission out of desperation. “Their goal is to block the agreement between Hungary and the European Commission so that Hungary does not receive the EU funds to which it is rightfully entitled,” he stressed.
Fidesz MEP Balázs Hidvéghi said that those who initiated this debate want to play the role of the guardians of the rule of law, but the reality is that they are ignoring the will of the people and cannot forgive the fact that Hungarians — and increasingly others in Europe as well — do not want the policies of the left and their dangerous, out-of-touch ideas.
Featured photos via the European Parliament