It has once again become clear that the Article 7 procedure launched against Hungary over the state of the rule of law in the country “is about exerting political pressure” on Hungary, the justice minister said in Brussels on Tuesday.
Speaking to Hungarian reporters after a meeting of ministers in charge of European Union affairs, Judit Varga said certain member states were not interested in holding a vote to conclude the procedure against Hungary. Instead, she said, their aim was to prolong the procedure, arguing that keeping criticism of certain central European member states on the agenda would boost their approval ratings at home. Also, the procedure serves as a distraction from their domestic problems, Varga added.
“There are no more legal arguments to be made,” the minister said, adding that Hungary recommended putting an end to the procedure as quickly as possible.
Varga said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the head of state of the country holding the EU’s rotating presidency, had promised Hungary a swift conclusion to the procedure. But, the minister added, if the other member states were unwilling to end it, Hungary would present specific examples demonstrating “the use of double standards in this political witch-hunt”.
(According to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the government of Germany has not made such a promise. In the Hungarian parliament on Monday he said that “In accordance with the mandate laid down in the parliamentary resolution, I moved that the Article 7 procedure against Hungary should be concluded during the German presidency. (…) in our opinion there is no obstacle to concluding this procedure. The German government’s representative confirmed this intention, but made no promise of any kind, and we received no guarantee of any kind. The Chancellor said she would try to ensure that this happens.”)
Varga also noted that in July the European Council approved the political conditions tied to the bloc’s next budget. She said EU leaders had made it clear that instead of wanting to tie specific conditions regarding the rule of law to the distribution of funds, they considered it more important to underline respect for the rule of law as a general principle. Varga said anyone who sought to make changes to the package agreed on in the summer endangered the “fragile compromise”.
Featured photo via Judit Varga’s Facebook page