Denouncing the policy pursued by Viktor Orban’s government, the European Parliament on Thursday 15 September adopted a report proclaiming the disintegration of Hungarian democracy.
For most MEPs, Hungary can no longer be considered a democracy. This Thursday, September 15, they widely adopted a report designating the government of Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, as a “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy”. Budapest is accused of undermining the rule of law in several ways.
In power since 2010, Viktor Orban, 59, is at the center of European concerns. A nationalist and ultra-conservative, he claims the exercise of an “illiberal democracy” and maintains cooperative ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
“We know that Orban’s own family is recovering the European funds,” said Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the French environmental MEP responsible for presenting this report.
In listing member states’ complaints against Hungary, he cited the hampered independence of the judiciary, “restrictions on parliamentary rights”, spying by journalists, government control over universities, the “infamous law” against LGBT + people “reminiscent of Putin’s laws”, or even the tightening of abortion conditions.
Approved with 433 votes in favor (123 against and 28 abstentions), this text that consecrates the disintegration of Hungarian democracy elaborates, according to the elected Fabienne Keller (Renew Europe), a “sad observation”: “If Hungary ran today to entering the EU would not be possible, it would no longer meet the membership criteria “.
Concerns about corruption
Already in 2018, the European Parliament had initiated proceedings against Hungary for “risk of serious violation of European values”. Concerned about corruption and the conditions for the award of public contracts in this country, the European Commission had also established, since last April, an unprecedented mechanism that links the payment of funds to respect for the rule of law.
In concrete terms, Hungary is forced to give commitments to Brussels on the fight against corruption in order to escape the suspension of European funding. This is why Budapest has presented a series of pacification measures, including the establishment of an “independent authority” to fight corruption.
The situation is delicate for Viktor Orban’s country, which risks being deprived of billions of euros of European funding. Due to this unfavorable context, the country is also the only EU member whose post-Covid recovery plan (€ 5.8 billion) has not yet received the green light from the Commission.
In recent days, the Hungarian Minister of Justice, Judit Varga, has started a tour of the European capitals, meeting his counterparts and European commissioners. He tries to persuade them not to financially sanction his country, already in difficulty due to galloping inflation and the collapse of the national currency, the guilder.
However, according to European sources, Brussels intends to propose this Sunday to the Member States to suspend most of the funds paid to Hungary under the cohesion policy. However, the country could still escape the sanction if it correctly implements the reforms announced in the fight against corruption. Member States would have up to three months to decide.