The Hungarian government threatens EU values, institutions, and funds, MEPs say

Parliament condemns the deliberate, continuous and systematic efforts of the Hungarian government to undermine the EU’s founding values.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday with 345 votes for, 104 against and 29 abstentions, MEPs express strong concern about the further erosion of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary, in particular through the recently adopted so-called ‘national sovereignty protection’ package – which has been compared with Russia’s infamous ‘foreign agents law’.

Violations of the EU Treaties

Regretting the Council’s failure to apply the Article 7 (1) procedure (following Parliament’s activation of the mechanism in 2018), Parliament calls on the European Council to determine whether Hungary has committed “serious and persistent breaches of EU values” under the more direct procedure of Article 7(2). MEPs also condemn the actions of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who last December blocked the essential decision to revise the EU’s long-term budget, including the Ukraine aid package, “in full disrespect and violation of the EU’s strategic interests and in violation of the principle of sincere cooperation”. The EU must not give in to blackmail, they highlight.

Protecting EU funds

Parliament regrets the Commission’s decision to release up to €10.2 billion of previously frozen funds, despite Hungary not fulfilling the demanded reforms for judicial independence and the Commission recently prolonging the application of Conditionality Regulation measures.

Further, MEPs condemn the reported systemic discriminatory practices against academia, journalists, political parties and civil society when allocating funds. They regret the use of manipulated public procurement procedures, takeover bids by the government and entities with ties to the Prime Minister, and the use of EU funds to enrich the government’s political allies.

The measures required to release EU funding under different rules must be treated as a single package, and no payments should be made if deficiencies persist in any area. Parliament will look into whether legal action should be pursued to overturn the decision to partially unfreeze funds, and notes that it can use an array of legal and political measures if the Commission is in breach of its duties as the guardian of the Treaties and to protect the EU’s financial interests.

The upcoming Hungarian Presidency of the Council

In light of these issues, Parliament questions if the Hungarian Government will be able to fulfil its duties in the second half of 2024, warning that, if the position of President of the European Council is vacant, those duties would fall to the Hungarian Prime Minister during the country’s six-month Presidency of the Council. MEPs ask the Council to find proper solutions to mitigate these risks, and call for reforms to the Council’s decision-making process, to end the abuse of the right of veto and blackmail.