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Finland to Continue Article 7 Proceedings Against Hungary During EU Presidency

Fanni Kaszás 2019.09.05.

Finland, which currently holds the European Union presidency, will move forward with the Article 7 proceedings against Hungary. The Finnish-Hungarian diplomatic relations have been quite frosty in recent months as the Hungarian government has resented that the Finnish EU Presidency (begun in July) would focus on issues regarding the rule of law.

Finland has kept its promise, and while holding the current presidency of the European Union, is moving forward with the Article 7 proceedings against Hungary. Finnish Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson announced to the European Parliament that a formal hearing would be held in the General Affairs Council on September 16th. In the hearing, the situation of the rule of law and democracy in Hungary will be discussed by the foreign ministers of the member states and the Hungarian delegates will also be able to discuss their points on the issue. Henriksson specifically emphasized that they wanted to link EU funding to the rule of law and they also support the creation of a Fund for Rights and Values.

Responding to the critics, Justice Minister Judit Varga said in an interview to business weekly Figyelő that the Hungarian government’s political opponents “have completely distorted” the idea of the rule of law, adding that this was evidenced by the debate around the ongoing Article 7 procedure against Hungary. The issue of the rule of law can become problematic when it is “used as a weapon against member states that break with the mainstream but still represent a legitimate political stance,” Varga said. “This operation has been ongoing against Hungary for years.”

Not ‘Smile Diplomacy’: Finnish PM to Visit Orbán after Rough Rule of Law Debate

On September 30th, Antti Rinne, the prime minister of Finland, will visit Budapest to meet Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán in the prime minister’s office, where they will be able to talk about the issues related to the proceedings and the hearing at the GAC, to be followed by a joint press conference.

featured photo: Zoltán Máthé/MTI