Tuesday’s European Parliament debate has demonstrated unequivocally that no amount of reforms will convince the the European bureaucracy to release the still outstanding Covid Recovery funds to Hungary, it is a complete political and ideological alignment with the strongly centralized European Institutions that is required. The Hungarian government’s arguments that such a move would infringe on fundamental European treaties and violate the basic tenets of national parliamentary democracies, keeps falling on deaf ears.
Although Hungary is one of the guarantors of the loan that the European Commission (EC) had taken out to kick-start the EU’s economy after the pandemic, it had not seen a penny of the EUR 700 million that it is still owed. If statements of high-ranking EU officials are to go by, the price for these funds would be a fundamental diversion from the basic political principles that makes a conservative government conservative, and a relinquishment of constitutional and political sovereignty in favor of Brussel’s federalist ambitions.
The reason listed by the EC for withholding the recovery funds are Viktor Orbán’s government’s alleged transgressions against judicial independence, as well as rule of law issues. Speaking during the European Parliament’s Tuesday session, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, called a new legislation towards strengthened judicial oversight “an important step in the right direction”. However, he added, “it is not the end of the process. Hungary also needs to complete the accompanying implementation steps”.
Didier Reynders. Photo: European Parliament
European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn chimed in by saying that “there has already been some valuable change in Hungary. For example, there is now an active integrity authority, there are now ways of challenging a prosecutor’s decision not to pursue a case, and OLAF now has reinforced cooperation structures in Hungary.”
Johannes Hahn. Photo: European Parliament.
Despite the best efforts of Hungary, as acknowledged by Hahn and Reynders, the goal-post is being pushed further and further, and it is increasingly unlikely that at the December 15 deadline, when Hungary’s progress in the contentious issues is due to be assessed, the Commission will sign off on the extensive reforms the Orbán government had introduced at Brussels’ request.
Kinga Gál, chairwoman of the Fidesz parliamentary group in the European Parliament, said that the EP debate is another episode of the anti-Hungarian soap opera, which is discredited and does not contain any facts or truth. The debate is political blackmail to bring Hungary to its knees for being pro-peace, opposing illegal migration and protecting children from gender ideology, she said.
“We defend our independence. We have had enough of the increasingly absurd anti-Hungarian campaign built like a house of cards. As many across Europe expect: change is needed, and change will come next June”,
added Kinga Gál, alluding to the European elections next year.
Balázs Hidvéghi, Fidesz MEP, said that if Hungary delivers anything, the EP will attack it even more furiously, because the goal is not to get an agreement.
This is pure political blackmail. The current corrupt Brussels elite cannot stay in place. The time for change has come”,
Balázs Hidvéghi concluded.
In his speech, György Hölvényi, MEP for the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), said the debate means that the increasingly radicalized left is blackmailing the European Commission and the Council of the European Union with “desperate but not to be underestimated efforts” to prevent Hungary from accessing the EU funds it is entitled to.
Featured Photo: European Parliament