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MEPs and governments worry about Hungary’s future EU Council presidency in 2024


Behind the scenes, the Twenty-Seven do not always spare themselves, far from it. But it is rare that these criticisms are expressed publicly. On Tuesday 30 May, during a meeting between European affairs ministers in Brussels, some broke with this “diplomatic courtesy”notes a specialist in community affairs, to share, in front of the press, their discomfort at the prospect of seeing the Hungary of Viktor Orban – illiberal and close to the Kremlin – occupy the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) in the second half of 2024.

Read Sylvie Kauffmann’s column: Article reserved for our subscribers “Viktor Orban has made Budapest the center of European counter-diplomacy”

As such, its mission will be to define certain priorities, to organize the debates between the Member States and to seek a compromise between them on the legislation under consideration.

“I have doubts about Hungary’s ability to carry out” this mission, said German State Secretary for Europe and Climate, Anna Lührmann. The country “is currently isolated within the EU due to rule of law issues which are really serious”, explained the ecologist, attentive to bringing this theme of law to life within the coalition. Furthermore, she added, Budapest “still leaves doubt about its support for Ukraine in Russia’s brutal war of aggression”. Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra also expressed his “discomfort” in view of the Hungarian Presidency. “That’s how we all feel”he assured.

” Find a solution “

Thursday, the debate should move to the European Parliament, while MEPs will vote that day on a resolution (a text without legislative scope) on the subject. The text that will be submitted to them asks how Budapest “will be able to carry out its task credibly in view of its failure to respect EU law and values” and asks the Council to “find a solution as soon as possible”. It is supported by the conservatives of the European People’s Party (EPP), the social democrats (S&D), the liberals of Renew Europe, the Greens and the radical left (GUE/NGL) and therefore has every chance of being adopted.

On Tuesday, the Hungarian Minister of Justice, Judit Varga, denounced the “political pressure” of the European Parliament and judged this discussion “senseless”. She also announced that one of Hungary’s priorities for the presidency would be to verify “if the European Parliament, which is bathed in corruption scandals, respects its own rules and the legal principles of the EU”. She posted a photo on Twitter showing her meeting with her Spanish and Belgian counterparts, as a sign of support from those countries. His two colleagues also circulated the image.

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