“The Bad Boy from Budapest is back on the Brussels Naughty Step”

Hungarian government then accuses Brussels of "blatant lying" as cracks widen across EU

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2022

Orban likely to lose EU funding before Christmas… unless he starts kow-towing to Brussels

On Thursday last week the EU Parliament voted to suspend billions of euros in EU payments to Hungary unless it does what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the MEPs say.

With it now looking like a Scrooge’s Christmas for Hungary, Facts4EU.Org summarises the case for the prosecution and reports on the Hungarian reaction.

EU Parliament insists that the EU must freeze funding to Hungary

The EU Parliament says the Commission and Council should resist pressure from Hungary and go ahead with adopting the proposed ‘rule of law’ conditionality measures to suspend EU cohesion funds worth billions.

In a resolution passed on Thursday (24 Nov 2022) by 416 votes in favour, 124 against and 33 abstentions, MEPs said that the 17 remedial measures negotiated by the Commission and Hungary are “not sufficient to address the existing systemic risk to the EU’s financial interests”, even if implemented fully.

They called on EU member states to adopt the proposed measures under the Conditionality Regulation in order to protect the EU budget against “breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary”, and to lift them only after the Hungarian remedial measures have had a sustainable effect.

The final decision now goes to the EU Council, which has just three weeks to announce the verdict.

The ‘Bad Boy from Budapest’ comes out fighting

With impeccable timing, on the same day as the EU Parliament’s attack on Hungary Viktor Orban was at a meeting of the leaders of the four Visegrad countries: Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. At the meeting Orban gave a speech which we quote from below.

“Our common challenges are illegal migration, the energy crisis, preventing economic recession, and protecting the external borders of the Schengen Area.

“Hungary is in a special situation: we are the only country in Europe that has to deal with two migrant crises at the same time; everyone else has to deal with one, or none. But because of our geographical location, this year more than a million Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Hungary. A large number of them have gone on, but we have had to receive them and care for them; and this year we have stopped more than 250,000 illegal border crossings at our country’s southern borders.

“Hungary is a country that is under migration pressure from two directions at the same time. We have spent more than one and a half billion euros on border protection, we have formulated numerous laws, and we have fought numerous battles with Brussels – which has been continuously attacking Hungary’s border defence operations.

“I agree with my colleague, Mateusz [Morawiecki, Polish PM]: as we are facing a protracted war in Ukraine, in the period ahead the migration pressure from Ukraine will increase; and the V4 [Visegrád Four]’s demand that the EU should also assume some of this burden is a fair demand. In the coming period we should also expect migration pressure from the south to increase – partly due to the war, and partly due to other events.”

- Viktor Orban, Košice, Slovakia, 24 Nov 2022

The Budapest-Brussels battle lines

The EU Commission, MEPs, and EU Council have been battling the Budapest government for years. It would be fair to say that the issues have been many, from their dislike of Viktor Orban’s anti-immigration, pro-Christian, pro-traditional family policies, to his rejection of the influence of foreign bodies in Hungary financed by George Soros’s ‘Open Society Foundations’. The EU also has issues with media freedoms in Hungary as well as the way its judiciary is appointed.

In 2015 Viktor Orban was roundly condemned by Brussels for starting the construction of high barbed wire fencing to protect Hungary’s borders. At that time, Hungary had the highest influx of migrants per capita of any other EU country. It is worth mentioning that many other EU countries have now followed suit and the Commission is even part-financing the construction of some of these barbed wire borders.

On 18 September 2022, the EU Commission proposed to freeze €7.5 billion in EU funds for Hungary, citing corruption and public procurement concerns, after having triggered the rule of law conditionality mechanism against Hungary in April.

After negotiations with the Commission, Hungary presented 17 remedial measures, such as creating an anti-corruption task force and changes to its public procurement rules, to address the concerns. It seems these are not enough.

And finally, Hungary accuses EU Commission and EU Parliament of “blatantly lying”

© Facts4EU.Org 2022, using mapchart.net

On Friday, the day after the EU Parliament vote, Péter Szijjártó, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was in just as much of a combative mood as his boss.

The EU Commission and EU Parliament have both claimed that Hungary has refused to vote for an €18bn fund to support Ukraine, thereby blocking it. This has provoked a very strong reaction in Budapest. The Hungarian Foreign Secretary stressed his government had made it clear that Hungary is prepared to provide its share of the €18bn EU fund – but it merely opposed taking out another joint EU loan to pay for it.

“It is a blatant lie that Hungary has ever blocked or opposed the EU providing support to Ukraine to keep the country functioning. Those who claim that we’ve ever opposed or blocked this are lying.

Joint indebtedness is not the way forward for Europe, he said, adding:

The European Union was not created to become a debt union; this has never even come up in the past. So this is once again a step that goes against the EU treaties and the vision that we have for Europe’s future.”

- Péter Szijjártó, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 25 Nov 2022


Oh dear. Once again it seems that all is not sweetness and light in Ursula von der Leyen’s fairytale world of EU “solidarity and unity”.

Before Christmas It seems the EU will either cut off EU funds to Hungary or (perhaps more likely given the usual EU fudges) it will issue a final ultimatum of sorts.

With Hungary’s Prime Minister speaking on Thursday of fighting “numerous battles with Brussels” and his Foreign Secretary the next day openly accusing Brussels of “blatant lying”, last week did not exactly close on a high point for the empire’s rulers.

Needless to say, readers are unlikely to be informed by the BBC of any of the above.

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[ Sources: EU Parliament | EU Commission | Hungarian Prime Minister | Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Mon 28 Nov 2022

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