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Hungary takes over EU presidency amid bitter disagreements with Brussels

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jul2,2024

Hungary took the EU presidency amid sharp disagreements with Brussels

On Monday, 1 July, Hungary's nationalist government takes over the EU presidency and takes office with the slogan “Make Europe Great Again.” This comes amid sharp disagreements between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Brussels over the rule of law and human rights, reports Voice of America.

Last year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution highlighting Hungary's retreat from democratic values ​​and questioned whether she was trustworthy as EU President.

Hungarian diplomats say the country will carry out its duties as expected. Analysts say Budapest's actions at the forefront of EU policy-making are likely to be limited given that Brussels is in a transition phase following elections in June.

Since Hungary's last presidency in the EU in 2011, Orbán boasted of handing out “slaps”, “slaps”, and "friendly slaps" "hot-tempered tormentors" from the European Parliament.

This time, Orban, 61, is even more determined. During the campaign ahead of the European Parliament elections, he promised to “occupy Brussels”, counting on the success of the radical right forces.

But even despite the successes of the far right, Orbán’s Fidesz party is currently isolated, unable to find suitable faction in the European Parliament.

On Sunday, June 30, Orban announced that he wants to form his own faction with the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) and the centrist ANO party of former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis. But no other parties have yet joined them.

Last week, Orbán failed to derail an agreement to re-elect Ursula von der Leyen as head of the European Commission and to elect two other representatives of the centrist alliance to leadership positions.

The role of the Chairman involves setting the agenda, presiding over meetings of EU members in all areas except foreign affairs and issues related to the Eurozone, seeking consensus among EU member states and brokering agreements with the European Parliament in the legislative field.

Analysts say it will take several months for the new European Commission and new members of parliament to get up to speed. This means that while far-right politicians potentially sympathetic to Hungary's priorities have had success in the EU elections, its ability to pursue its political agenda is limited.

"The impact on the legislative agenda will be negligible. It will start much later, perhaps at the end of the year, perhaps at the beginning of next year" – says Pavel Havlicek, a researcher at the Association for International Affairs.

Budapest said its priorities include promoting EU membership of the Western Balkans, illegal migration and issues related to economic competitiveness. Critics point out that the EU enlargement proposed by Hungary does not include Ukraine. Hungary has in the past blocked or delayed funds and arms supplies to Ukraine and maintained ties with Moscow while criticizing the EU's efforts to reduce dependence on China.

Ahead of Hungary's EU presidency, the bloc rushed to impose new sanctions against Russia and begin negotiations with Ukraine on joining the bloc.

Senior Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations Susie Dennison emphasizes that Hungary intends to pursue its nationalist line, no matter what.

Senior European Policy Center analyst Johannes Grebel states that some of Budapest's priorities, in particular competitiveness issues, unite Hungary with other EU states. At the same time, the expert recalls that the positions of the Hungarian leadership in this area will most likely be combined with right-wing rhetoric on issues of migration, the war in Ukraine and the rule of law. And he emphasizes: “Elements of the far-right (ideology) will prevail.”

Prepared by: Sergey Daga

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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