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Weeklies on EU recovery fund deal

July 27th, 2020

The weeklies, and the weekend editions of the dailies ponder the broader implications of the EU recovery fund and the next 7 year budget. Liberal analysts see it as a step towards a more unified Europe, while a Marxist philosopher interprets it as the end of the European dream. Conservative commentators interpret the deal as a great victory for Prime Minister Orbán.

Magyar Narancs in a first page editorial welcomes the deal on the EU recovery fund. The liberal weekly points out that the agreement enables the EU to introduce policies that would make it possible for Brussels to penalize countries that violate basic democratic norms (see BudaPost June 24). The paper adds that, according to the deal, the European Commission will work out the rules of procedures for determining what counts as a violation of basic EU norms. These rules will make it possible for the EU to punish member states’ governments, including the ‘mafiosi led’ Hungarian government, Magyar Narancs continues.

In Élet és Irodalom, Péter Heil also thinks that, depending on what procedures the European Commission will elaborate, the EU recovery deal places a strong weapon in the hands of the EU to fight governments found in breach of basic EU principles. The liberal analyst therefore thinks that Prime Minister Orbán did not manage to achieve his most important goal, that of eliminating the rule of law conditionality from the agreement.

In a bitter piece in Heti Világgazdaság, Marxist philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás describes the EU summit as displaying ‘the filthy symptoms of late capitalism’s decay’. Tamás likens the bargain to an unprincipled horse trade in which all parties were motivated by their own financial goals. Tamás agrees with Prime Minister Orbán that values were also chips used in the bargain – but were not taken at all seriously. In Tamás’s interpretation, the deal shows that the EU lacks solidarity as well as common values. All this suggest that the EU is declining and losing its moral standing, and becoming prey to ‘ethnic nationalist public opinion, corporations acting as sovereign states, interest groups, and mafia’, Tamás concludes.

Portfolio’s Ákos Zsoldos, on the other hand, sees the EU deal as a leap towards a federal European Union. Zsoldos believes that the agreement strengthens the position of the central EU bodies by creating collective resources that could be barely imagined before. Zsoldos suspects that the federalization of the EU will be a long and incremental, but inevitable process that, in the long run, can create a strong European Union which becomes an influential economic and geopolitical power on the global stage.

In Magyar Hírlap, Dániel Kacsoh interprets the deal as a victory for Prime Minister Orbán and an utter failure of the Hungarian Left. The pro-government columnist recalls that DK MEP Klára Dovrev called on the EU leadership not to compromise on the rule of law conditionality criteria. At the end of the day, however, Prime Minister Orbán won, and the agreed rules make it nigh impossible to penalize Hungary, through the application of a watered-down rule of law conditionality. In a passing remark, Kacsoh finds it disappointing that Brussels will offer even more funding to NGOs in the next EU budget cycle. But he is optimistic that the Hungarian government will soon introduce legislation that would ‘make NGOs more transparent’.

Magyar Nemzet’s Ottó Gajdics praises the government for halting Europe’s decline with ‘mindless centralization’ – even if only for the time being. The pro-government columnist accuses the Hungarian Left, European elites and left-wing NGOs of trying to erase Europe’s Christian, national and conservatives core values. Gajdics believes that the EU deal on recovery funding is a reasonable compromise that at least slows down the federalization of the EU and the creation of a United States of Europe. Gajdics finds it absurd that anyone who does not agree with the Left’s vision of Europe is labeled a Fascist or Nazi.

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