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Fidesz Forms Its Own ‘Three Wise Men’ Committee in Response to the EPP

Fanni Kaszás 2019.03.25.

On Wednesday, following a decision made by the European People’s Party Presidency (EPP) and Fidesz,  the Political Assembly of the EPP voted in favor of suspension. A three-member evaluation committee has been appointed to assess Fidesz’s implementation of the conditions agreed upon in the proposal. Fidesz and the Socialists (MSZP) recently announced the formation of their own ‘group of wise men.’

The committee will be chaired by former Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy (Belgium) and its members will include former European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering (Germany) and former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel (Austria). As many have rightfully pointed out, two out of the three countries – Germany and Austria – assigned to the committee have a history of being lenient towards Fidesz.

‘Three Wise Men’ to Monitor Whether Fidesz Meets EPP’s Conditions

Minister of State for Family, Youth and International Affairs and Fidesz’s Vice President Katalin Novák announced that the Hungarian governing party has taken it upon itself to form its own three-member ‘group of wise men’ which will be in charge of negotiating with the evaluation committee and determining Fidesz’s “future European perspectives.” The committee is chaired by Novák and its members include Minister of State for European Union Relations Judit Varga and Fidesz MEP József Szájer.

In an interview with Magyar Hírlap, Novák said that Fidesz “cannot stay in the European People’s Party” if the EPP moves to the left and no longer represents the party’s traditional values. In regards to Fidesz’s place within the party family, she said that “in Brussels, we gave each other a chance to figure out what the future holds.” She assured that Fidesz’s three-member committee would regularly consult with the EPP to help it “see clearly.” She also promised that the Hungarian committee would assess “how Europe will develop after the elections” and in what way the government will represent the “interests of the Hungarian people as effectively as possible.”

Orbán: “EPP Lost Sovereignty and Is Dictated to From the Left”

The joint proposal submitted by Fidesz and the EPP Presidency outlines the conditions the evaluation committee will assess. Aside from the fulfilment of Manfred Weber’s three-point ultimatum, the committee will also examine Hungary’s respect for the rule of law and Fidesz’s regard for EPP values.

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Socialist party leader Bertalan Tóth said that the EPP not only has the task of “examining Fidesz but Hungary too.” He announced the establishment of a similar body which plans to discuss the rule of law in Hungary and analyse the use of EU and public resources. The Socialist committee will include former Hungarian EU Commissioner Péter Balázs, former Socialist lawmaker László Donáth and former Minister of Justice Péter Bárándy. Ultimately, six Hungarians will work alongside the original three ‘wise men’ appointed by the EPP.

As of now, it is unclear how long it will take for the EPP’s “three wise men” to produce a report on Fidesz, nor is it obvious whether the party will have a fate similar to that of Austria’s in 2000. In reference to Wolfgang Schüssel’s membership on the committee, Orbán joked that “in 20 years I will monitor the rule of law in the Swedish and Scandinavian countries, and I find this perspective appealing.”

On the featured photo: “the ‘wise men of Fidesz” (left to right) –  Judit Varga, József Szájer and Katalin Novák.