“It goes against the tide.” The European Union expresses its “discomfort” with Hungary presiding over the bloc’s meetings
On Tuesday, European Union ministers expressed “discomfort” with Hungary’s assumption of its rotating presidency next year, but Budapest pledged that nothing could prevent it from playing the prominent role.
On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a non-binding draft resolution urging the capitals of the Union to consider Hungary unqualified to assume the presidency of the Union in the second half of 2024.
This will be a momentous period following the European elections that will decide the bloc’s next legislature and its executive branch, the European Commission.
The European Union believes that Hungary is out of the loop, as it has reneged on democratic standards and is obstructing some discussions in the European Union, including the imposition of sanctions on Russia, in pursuit of national gains.
“We all have an uncomfortable feeling,” Dutch Foreign Minister Wöbke Hoekstra said about the upcoming Hungarian presidency of the European Union.
He was speaking ahead of a meeting of EU ministers to discuss long-running proceedings against Hungary and Poland for violating the rule of law.
For her part, said Assistant German Foreign Minister Analina Berbock: “I have doubts about the ability of Hungary to perform its presidency (of the Union) properly.”
“Hungary is currently isolated in the European Union because of very significant problems with the rule of law, and also because there are doubts about Hungary’s support for Ukraine in Russia’s cruel war of aggression,” she added.
EU and Budapest officials, however, point out that EU treaty law stipulates that the presidency, a position tasked with overseeing the EU’s agenda for a period of six months, rotates periodically among all 27 EU members, and almost nothing can change that. reality.
“There is no discussion on the issue. Hungary will take over the presidency as an honest broker,” said Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga.
She considered the debate in the European Parliament “worthless” led by left-wing MPs who were “disgruntled”.
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said it was “not up to the Commission to decide” but that it would be “very attentive” to discussions between member states.
Reynders, however, highlighted the union’s deep misgivings about democratic standards in Hungary and Poland. The two countries have been facing procedures for years that may eventually lead to stripping them of the right to vote in the bodies of the Union.
Both countries are accused of trying to limit the capacity of independent judges. He said issues of corruption and academic freedom in Hungary were of concern.
He added that a decision by Poland to set up a new commission ostensibly intended to investigate “Russian influence” was of “particular concern” because of its powers to prevent individuals, including judges, from holding public office.
Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, which will move next month to Spain and then to Belgium in the first half of 2024.
And once there was no rotation in the presidency of the federation. Britain renounced its rotating presidency of the Union in 2017, a year after the referendum that resulted in favor of leaving the bloc.
Swedish Minister for European Affairs Jessica Rosvall, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting, said the question of Hungary’s presidency of the EU was not on the ministers’ agenda.
She added that it was “expected” from all countries that hold the presidency of the European Union to “preserve the interests of all members of the union.”
Varga said Hungary had “created all the structures” required for her presidency.
She emphasized her government’s determination to “continue to preserve families” through a law banning the explanation of homosexuality to minors, and upheld a tough stance on immigration.
Varga also emphasized that Budapest has a “pro-peace stance” on the war in Ukraine that “doesn’t appeal to the left-wing majority in the European Parliament”.
On discussing the issue of the rule of law in Hungary at Tuesday’s meeting, she said that she considers that her country has “exemplary bodies” and that it has applied “modern measures for the rule of law.”