Another way to condemn Viktor Orban’s government. MEPs, meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg on Thursday 15 September, proclaimed that Hungary is no longer a true democracy, by adopting a report brought by the French environmentalist MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield.
By adopting this non-binding text, by 433 votes in favor (123 votes against, 28 abstentions), the European Parliament “It deeply regrets that the lack of decisive action on the part of the Union has contributed to the destruction of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary”. The report describes the Hungarian state as “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy”.
Budapest denounced “an insult” to Hungarians
Since 2010, Hungary has been led by nationalist and ultra-conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban, aged 59, who claims to be using a “illiberal democracy” and maintains cooperative relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. “Things have really changed” in Hungary in recent years, MrME Delbos-Corfield during the debate before the hemicycle vote, especially noted that “The independence of the judiciary is not possible in Hungary like in Poland”.
“We know that Orban’s own family is withdrawing European funds”he continued, to quote also “restrictions on parliamentary rights”surveillance of journalists, government control of universities, “terrible law” against LGBT+ people, “similar to Putin’s laws”but also the tightening of abortion conditions. “If Hungary is a candidate now to enter the EU, it will not be possible, it will no longer meet the membership criteria, this is the sad observation of the report”commented the elected Fabienne Keller, of the group Renew Europe.
At the end of the day, Budapest criticized this vote as “an insult” to the Hungarians, according to Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. “I consider it an insult to Hungarians to question Hungary’s capacity for democracy”he stated at a press conference in Budapest, surprised that “some” in Strasbourg and Brussels “down” his country.
The recovery plan is blocked
In 2018, the European Parliament started proceedings against Hungary for “Danger of serious violation of European values” (Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union). The country is also threatened with being deprived of billions of euros in EU funding, due to EU concerns about corruption and public procurement conditions in Hungary.
The Commission, which activated in April against Budapest an unprecedented mechanism linking the payment of funds to respect the rule of law, will propose on Sunday to the Member States to suspend most of the funds paid to Hungary under the cohesion policy. But it will be careful to leave a path for Budapest: the country will escape punishment if it properly implements the reforms announced in the fight against corruption. Member States have up to three months to decide.
In an attempt to guarantee Brussels, Budapest presented a series of measures, including the establishment of a “independent authority” in the fight against corruption. Hungary is also the only EU country whose post-Covid recovery plan (5.8 billion euros) has not yet received the green light from the Commission, for the same reasons.
At the same time, the Hungarian Minister of Justice, Judit Varga, began a tour of European capitals in recent days to convince European commissioners and her counterparts not to financially punish the his country, facing a difficult economic situation, against a backdrop of rising inflation and falling national currency.