Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the Commission, is used to congratulating European heads of state or government when they win an election. The nationalist Viktor Orban, whom the Hungarians largely renewed at the head of the executive on Sunday April 3, has not, for the moment, been entitled to this mark of attention. “These things are done when the government is confirmed by Parliament,” we explain to the Commission. In the meantime, on Tuesday, during a question and answer session in the European Parliament, Angela Merkel’s former defense minister did not hesitate to declare open hostilities against Budapest.
The Commission, she announced, is preparing to launch an unprecedented procedure against Hungary which allows the payment of European funds to be suspended in the event of violations of the rule of law. This earned him a round of applause in the Strasbourg hemicycle.
It must be said that MEPs, like their colleagues from the European Commission or Council, did not appreciate the speech that Viktor Orban gave on Sunday evening after his re-election. “We will remember this victory for the rest of our lives, because we had to fight against a large number of opponents”, he said, quoting “the Hungarian and international left”, the “bureaucrats” from Brussels, the international media, “and the Ukrainian president too”.
Budapest denounces an “error”
European Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn “spoke today with the Hungarian authorities and informed them that we will now send the letter of formal notice to activate the mechanism”, thus opening a procedure which should last between six and nine months, detailed Ursula von der Leyen. The content of the missive is not yet known, but, in a previous letter sent in November 2021 to Budapest, the Commission had expressed its concerns about problems with public procurement, conflicts of interest and corruption.
Gergely Gulyas, Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, was quick to react, calling it a” error ” the Brussels decision. before asking “to the European Commission not to punish Hungarian voters for not having expressed an opinion to the taste of Brussels during the elections” Sunday.
In force since 1er January 2021, this mechanism has never been used, despite repeated pressure from the European Parliament. The Twenty-Seven had indeed agreed to wait for the Court of Justice of the European Union, which Budapest and Warsaw have seized on this subject, to confirm its legality. Which was done on February 16. The Commission was then ready to activate the mechanism against two countries: Poland, which does not guarantee the independence of justice, and Hungary, where the fight against corruption is largely insufficient.
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