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EP majority opposes the release of frozen funds to Hungary

November 22nd, 2022

A pro-government columnist accuses EP Deputy Speaker Katarina Barley of ‘imperial tactics’ for suggesting that the EU should withhold funding from Hungary. A left-wing commentator attributes the EU’s critical stance on Hungary to the government’s efforts to seek populist alliances abroad.

Magyar Nemzet’s Zsolt Bayer accuses EP Vice-President Katarina Barley of waging an ideological war on the Hungarian government and trying to help the opposition to power. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Barley expressed doubts about the Hungarian government’s willingness to comply with EU norms, as required for the suspended funding to start flowing. Barley suggested that EU funds should be withheld until all required rule of law amendments are fully implemented, adding that Hungarian society has been ‘Orbanized’ to the extent that it cannot be forced to comply with EU norms. She also said, however, that she expects the EU will on 6 December to transfer the funding anyway, out of fear of market turmoil if they decide otherwise. The pro-government columnist interprets Barley’s suggestions as a clear ‘imperial effort’ reminiscent of German geopolitics in the interwar period, to appropriate Hungarian resources and use them to further Nazi Germany’s objectives.

On 24.hu, Zsolt Kerner thinks that the EU’s approach to the Hungary is strongly influenced by the government’s foreign policy strategy. The left-wing pundit recalls that the Hungarian government under Prime Minister Orbán has replaced its previous center-right partnerships with populist pro-sovereignty alliances. In accordance with its increasingly radical right-wing rhetoric, the government has become highly critical of foreign actors including the EU, Kerner suggests. These disputes, particularly the government’s skirmishes with German politicians including former Chancellor Merkel, have weakened Hungary’s bargaining position within the EU, he maintains. Kerner accuses the government of ‘betting on a Russian victory in the Ukraine war’, which has also fueled negative sentiments towards Hungary. He believes that if Fidesz had remained a member of the EPP, the centre-right European alliance, the EU would not want to ‘discipline Hungary’ by withholding funding.

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