In a letter to Manfred Weber, the faction leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán initiated the loosening of relations between Fidesz and the EPP. The letter suggests that the representatives of Fidesz would remain in the EPP faction, but in a looser form of cooperation.
As the President of Fidesz, Viktor Orbán made a co-operation proposal to Manfred Weber, the leader of the EP faction of the European People’s Party, based on the former model between the EPP and European Democrats (EPP-ED). The Prime Minister argues that looser cooperation would be fortunate in order to avoid differences of opinion and interests as well as communication problems.
In the document dated Sunday and published by pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet, the Prime Minister also talked about the potential exclusion of MEP Tamás Deutsch, the head of the Fidesz-KDNP delegation in the EPP. The PM said there is a need to talk about how the Hungarian ruling party continues to operate within the European Parliament faction. “We have suspended our membership in the European People’s Party by mutual agreement […] But we have never talked about what this means for co-operation at the level of the European Parliament and the political group,” wrote the Prime Minister.
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Orbán said he would remedy such “conflicts of interest” with the formula for cooperation that existed between the EPP and MEPs in the British Conservative Party between 1999 and 2009. Orbán emphasized that “Fidesz representatives would remain in the European People’s Party faction, but in a looser form of cooperation,” adding that this would be a good solution for both the People’s Party and Fidesz.
As the Prime Minister wrote, he himself was Vice-President of the People’s Party for ten years, so he had the opportunity to observe the functioning of the deal between the European People’s Party and the European Democrats. According to him, in the current turbulent environment, this form would allow Fidesz and the People’s Party faction to work together in the service of common values, but with significantly less conflict.
However, as leftist daily Népszava writes, British Conservatives could only join the Christian Democrats without having been members of any European party family. In other words, the partnership proposed by Orbán can only be proposed by members of the EPP’s European Parliament group who do not belong to the European People’s Party. So Fidesz would first have to leave the political community of the Christian Democrats in order for their MEPs to be able to enter into a cooperation agreement with the group. Not to mention that there are strict conditions for accession to the party family, such as agreeing with the democratic values professed by the EPP, as well as agreeing to follow the norms of the rule of law.
According to EP sources, the letter written by the president of Fidesz is nothing more than a covert announcement that the party is preparing to leave the Christian Democratic party family.
Pedro Lopez de Pablo, Communications Director of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, confirmed that Orbán had written to Weber. He said: “I can confirm that we have received a letter from Prime Minister Orbán. However, whatever he wants to achieve with this proposal, he must be asked about it.” Pedro Lopez de Pablo added that “if Fidesz MEPs want to leave the group and try to negotiate such an agreement, they are free to do so, we are forcing no one to join the EPP.
However, the adoption of such an agreement at group level requires a vote- if there is no consensus then there is no possibility of adopting such associations.” The spokesman also emphasized that the group will certainly discuss Viktor Orbán’s proposal, “however, so far we have followed the decisions at the level of the EPP party and we will continue to do so.”
Pedro Lopez de Pablo also drew attention to the fact that the membership and future of Fidesz should be negotiated with the EPP as a party, so the political group alone cannot make decisions on the issue of the Hungarian member party and its representatives. He added that the group will certainly not make a unilateral decision that would presuppose a decision at the party level as well.
featured photo: Balázs Szecsődi/MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda