In the middle of Europe, In the edge of Europe - Summary


In the middle of Europe, In the edge of Europe - Summary

Republikon Intézet

Republikon Institute hosted a conference on January 19, 2024, focusing on the achievements since 2019 and outlining the main challenges for the EU from 2024. Although in the Hungarian public sphere, the topics of local elections often take precedence over European affairs, we believe it is important to show how the European Union is represented in Hungary and Hungary in the European Union. Of course, developments around the EU funds withheld from Hungary are prominent among the topics covered, but we wanted the discussion to give a broader overview of Hungary's position within the EU and what we can expect here in Hungary depending on the outcome of the June elections.

At the opening of the event, Gábor Horn, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Republikon Foundation, said that 2024 will be an important year not only for Europe, but also for world politics. As the EP elections in June will be held alongside the US presidential elections. And who the US president will have a major impact on our continent. He also said that Hungarian voters also face important choices. Voters will be able to evaluate the past 5 years in the municipal elections. In addition, the system of relations between the opposition parties could also change.

First panel discussion:

Katalin Cseh, Momentum Member of the EP, believes that the EU debate on Hungary is really about the future of the community. It is also about the EU's ability to deal with a state that is in opposition to it. She said that in the absence of action, more and more Orbán Viktor could gain a foothold in Europe. Alternatively, he believes that the European Parliament should continue to be the moral compass of the EU. She considers it surreal and damaging that the "occupied" Hungarian state is still being "fed" with additional resources. She also considers Ukraine's accession to the EU and the implementation of the euro to be in Hungary's interest. He also said that because of us more and more countries are supporting majority voting.

Péter Balázs, professor emeritus of CEU, former ambassador, former EU commissioner, former EU ambassador, says the European Parliament is a huge agora, but its power is very small. But it also represents political norms within the EU institutional system. In his view, the Commission's deal with Hungary may have been done because the Commission prioritises stopping Russian expansion. For this reason, even the Hungarian rule of law was "sacrificed". He believes that only a change of government could remedy the negative image of the country. He also mentioned that it is crucial for a party to win a mandate in the EP elections. Because even one mandate can multiply the real importance of a party.

According to Márton Gyöngyösi, Member of the EP of Jobbik, the biggest question is whether Europe can remain united. According to him, a new world order is emerging, so it is vital that the EU is prepared for it. As a Hungarian, he finds it disappointing that the suspension of the country's voting rights and the withdrawal of resources are on the agenda or even being implemented. He also sees all these initiatives as reinforcing Orban's domestic narrative. He believes that in 2004, although we tried to meet the formal requirements for accession, society was not prepared. In his view, Viktor Orbán and his government do not have the same interests as many Hungarians.

István Szent-Iványi, former Member of the EP of the SZDSZ, said that the Council has already set up an internal working group to suspend Hungary's voting rights. In his opinion, the main reason why the Commission made a deal with Hungary was because they were under enormous pressure because of the situation in Ukraine. But they are still angry with Orban because not much has changed. He believes that Hungary will face a humiliating presidency if it does not change its position on the EU. In his view, the positive image of the country after 2006, when it joined the EU, has been eroded. He sees it as a problem that speeches made in the EU are framed by Orbán. Moreover, the change of government in Poland has left Slovakia as our only (but far from certain) ally.

Second panel discussion:

According to Zsuzsanna Szelényi, Programme Director of the CEU Institute for Democracy, the economic competition between the US and China is affecting us Europeans as well. She believes that the EU's enlargement towards Ukraine and the Balkans is important from a security perspective. The stakes of the 9 June elections, she says, will be how many seats the radical right-wing parties win. And how they will be able to cooperate with each other. He believes that the EU should focus on conflict prevention rather than on dealing with conflicts that have already emerged. He believes there is a loss of trust in Hungary within the EU. To change this, he believes that it would be useul to restraint on the part of the Hungarian government.

Samuel Ágoston Mráz, head of the Nézőpont Institute, pointed out that it is not always the same which direction of change will take after the elections. He sees a shift to the right on 9 June, with Néppárt remaining by far the strongest party. He believes that Fidesz currently belongs to the EP 'opposition' rather than the mainstream. And the stakes of the election could be whether Fidesz will be part of the new mainstream or at least the edge. He also sees certain national elections as important for the EU. He sees a passive, defensive alliance between Slovakia and Hungary, which is only capable of blocking certain unwanted reforms. In his view, what is happening in Ukraine is hypocritical, because the country will not be joining the EU any time soon.

Györgyi Kocsis, journalist and former vice-president of the Hungarian Europe Society, believes that the stakes of the elections are whether we can preserve the fundamental values of the Union. She also sees the rise of the far left alongside the far right. However, the two extremes can most harm each other. He believes that Fidesz can at best rely on building a blocking minority after the elections. He also sees a need to reform the EU to make it work more efficiently. He sees Fidesz's portrayal of itself as the opposition to the Commission in this country as a serious manipulation. Since the Commission technically has no opposition, it is the guardian of the Treaty.

According to János Herman, former State Secretary for Public Administration and former NATO ambassador, the Orbán phenomenon can also be interpreted as a weakening of the West, and after 2008, he believes that many such "wild claims" appeared in Europe. He believes that the only antidote to Orbán is an effective and functioning EU. And the most important question for him is whether the EU will embark on a path of organisational consolidation in the coming years. He believes that an atomised and insufficiently united Europe could easily become a playground for the great powers. In his view, Hungary will not be deprived of its voting rights, as the EU fears that radicalised public opinion and the Hungarian government would decide to leave the EU in that case.


 Eu Co Funded En

Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.