Hungary ‘unfit’ to hold EU presidency, warn MEPs

Hungary ‘unfit’ to hold EU presidency, warn MEPs |

Hungary’s multiple breaches of EU law make it unfit to hold the bloc’s rotating presidency in 2024, MEPs warned this week, in a resolution set to be adopted next week. 

The resolution, which has the support of the European Parliament’s three main parties, the centre-right EPP, Socialist and Democrats, and liberal Renew Europe, as well as the Greens and Left groups, is not legally binding but points the way to yet another major political row between Brussels and Budapest where Fidesz has governed since 2010. 

The Hungarian government is due to hold the six-month presidency of the Council of Ministers from July 2024, less than a month after the next European elections.

While the rotating presidency has carried far less political influence to shape debate since the introduction of a permanent European Council president by the Lisbon Treaty, it is responsible for shaping negotiation of EU laws. 

The resolution “questions how Hungary will be able to fulfil this task in 2024 credibly, given its non-compliance with EU law and the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU, as well as the principle of sincere cooperation.” 

It then urges EU governments to “find a proper solution as soon as possible” and “recalls that Parliament could take appropriate measures if such a solution is not found”. 

In response, Hungarian government spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, accused MEPs of “the same old, tired charge that Hungary violates the EU’s basic principles and is hence unable to hold the presidency.”  

“But we know the actual reason: they dislike Hungary’s pro-peace stance and seek to drive us into conflict,” he added, a reference to Hungary’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has seen Budapest vote against sanctions against Russia and oppose military and humanitarian aid being sent to Ukraine.  

“We will not let them take such an opportunity away from Hungary,” added Justice Minister Judit Varga. 

“The European Parliament was not dealt a hand on this issue. None of those dealt a hand had the idea that Hungary should not take up its rightful position. We are in daily contact with the General Secretariat of the Council, and we are preparing for the task,” said Varga. 

Elsewhere, the resolution accuses the Fidesz government of “systemic corruption’ and“condemns the Hungarian Government’s anti-EU communication campaigns, which are part of the government’s strategy to divert attention from its non-compliance with the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU.” 

The Fidesz government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been in near permanent conflict with the EU institutions in recent years, primarily over disputes over judicial independence, press and civil society freedom and the rule of law.  

The Commission has also withheld billions of euros from the bloc’s post-pandemic recovery fund, though Hungary is one of the largest net recipients of EU funds. 

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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