Hungarians expect Brussels to set aside political debates
Judit Varga: The rule of law cannot be protected by means that violate the rule of law
The rule of law cannot be protected by means that violate the rule of law – said Judit Varga, Minister of Justice, at the online conference of Századvég Foundation on Tuesday, referring to the EU’s actions against Hungary.
What is needed is a smarter Europe based on mutual respect, not more Europe
In his greeting, Zsolt Barthel-Rúzsa, Executive Vice President of Századvég Foundation, emphasized that politicians in Brussels should also listen to the voices of the people and should not act against those who have elected them. In the coming period, they will have to decide whether to stand by the people or to represent the interests of foreign NGOs and speculators by listening to their words.
In her opening speech, Judit Varga, Minister of Justice, said that Hungary and Poland have experience of the rule of law procedure, the initiation of which had already violated EU treaties, according to the Hungarian government. Then the “listen to the other party” principle was violated, the facts were not checked, and a double standard was applied against Hungary. In spring, for example, it was attacked for its measures against the coronavirus pandemic, even though it only protected the Hungarian people, the minister said.
She also added that there was an EU commissioner who openly stated in the autumn that the rule of law criteria were important because they could be used to punish anyone who did not toe the line.
The differences between countries are not taken into consideration in the rule of law issue either and it is not sure where all this will end – Judit Varga noted.
The risk of linking the rule of law criteria and subsidies was eliminated by the agreement of 11 December, but this required Hungary and Poland to go to the wall. This agreement is important because it is not possible to use EU money to threaten countries, thus they cannot be forced to change their position, the minister said.
The agreement of last week also protected people’s money, solidarity, the EU Constitution, its treaties and our patience, Judit Varga highlighted. She pointed out that, in recent decades, the EU has been defined by crises – the financial crisis, energy crisis, the crisis in Ukraine, Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic – which the EU institutions have faced unprepared. Brussels has only been able to put out fires, although creative efforts are needed. Not even in the pandemic could the EU provide effective protection, nor coordination. Only nation states could act effectively.
In January, the infection from China, which hit Europe hard two months later, was classified as harmless by the EU’s epidemiological organization. In spring, Western European countries took life support systems from each other, and medical supplies were prohibited to sail from German ports. Meanwhile, since 2015, solidarity in Western Europe has only been concerned with the hosting of migrants, although it should be noticed that there are different traditions and different development paths in Europe. For example, Central European countries have a different attitude to migration than former colonials, the minister explained.
Meanwhile, Hungary is also in solidarity, it only believes that it is not trouble that needs to be brought here but help to be taken where it is needed: this is what the Hungary Helps program is for. Judit Varga pointed out that solidarity was also shown towards the Southern countries in that Hungary voted for the next EU budget and, by taking on the rescue package, even for joint indebtedness.
Surveys show that although there are still many people satisfied with the EU, more and more feel disappointed. Simply, we do not need more Europe, but a smarter Europe based on mutual respect – the minister said in her opening speech at the online conference of Századvég Foundation entitled “Europe Facing New Challenges – Research Results of Project Europe in 2020”.
Research results of Project Europe in 2020
In his presentation, Gábor Fűrész, CEO of Századvég Economic Research Institute, spoke about what Europeans think of the bureaucracy in Brussels and EU activities in different areas. Gábor Fűrész emphasized that the European public did not express criticism about the existence of the European Union but its functioning. The 2020 survey data show that a relative majority (49 percent) of respondents believe that Member States should have more power over the EU. In contrast, 34 percent of those surveyed want stronger integration, thus Europeans are still on the side of strong nation-states.
Szemere Maurer, Head of Division, Healthcare Business Sector of Századvég Economic Research Institute, presented the research results related to the coronavirus pandemic. The expert highlighted that in the five Member States most affected by the pandemic (France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium), 55 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with the way Brussels handled the pandemic situation. This average is less than 44 percent for the European Union as a whole.
Regarding the migration context of Project Europe, Bianka Speidl, senior researcher at the Migration Research Institute, said that, compared to the 2016 survey, the proportion of those who say that those arriving in Europe are not primarily refugees, but economic migrants, increased in 2020. The expert emphasized that there was a consensus in European public opinion that population problems should be solved by increasing childbirth numbers and not by encouraging migration. Based on all this, it may be necessary to rethink family policy in Europe, or even introduce measures following the Hungarian family policy model. This means that the warranty on the “refugee crisis” slogan has expired. In light of the facts and experience, the opinions of the populations of Western European are getting closer to the position that has so far characterised the opinion of the V4. The appreciation of Christian values and the importance of family support also indicate this converging trend. The push for a quota on their part is clearly due to the fact that a significant proportion of economic migrants are simply unfit for work and puts the burden on the social system.
Gábor Megadja, senior researcher at Századvég Foundation, highlighted in his presentation that more than half (57 percent) of Europeans do not trust social media. Regarding Facebook censorship, the research results show that 59 percent of Europeans reject social media censoring certain content on a political basis, a rate even higher, 62 percent in the V4 countries.
The ideas of Brussels bureaucracy do not meet the European people’s expectations
In the round-table discussion following the presentations, Minister of Justice Judit Varga said that the goal with which the Hungarian delegation arrived in Brussels had been achieved: No one should be able to blackmail any country with the means of the rule of law.
Responding to a question, Szemere Maurer emphasized that the Hungarian government is successfully managing the coronavirus situation in an international comparison as well. There is strong social support for government measures, thus, as opposed to some Western European countries, it was managed to avoid jeopardizing the success of defence as a result of the loss of public confidence.
Regarding the European Union’s crisis management activities, Gábor Fűrész said that migration and the pandemic showed the need to rethink the functioning of the European Union, as the ideas of Brussels bureaucracy do not meet the European people’s expectations.
Regarding the migration crisis since 2015, Bianka Speidl highlighted that, based on the research results, we are witnessing the awakening process of Western European societies. In terms of family policy and the preservation of Christian values, there is less and less difference between the opinions of Eastern and Western citizens.
Regarding the regulation on social media censorship at the Community level, Gábor Megadja said that joint action is hampered by the lack of agreement on the subject between Member States. While Hungary and Poland reject censorship, some Western European countries want more censorship. According to the expert, a similar social media intervention is expected in the 2022 Hungarian election campaign as we experienced during the US presidential election campaign in November.
In her closing remarks, Judit Varga explained that in the 2022 election campaign it will be decisive who can appear in social media and to what extent. Therefore, conservative thought must also be made possible to be displayed in the online space.
Source: MTI, Századvég