Hungarian David faces European Goliath

The European Union is at a crossroads: on one hand, Hungary demands to either fundamentally change or dissolve the European Parliament, on the other, Germany wants to ban individual countries’ veto rights.

For comparison: 9,610,536 people were Hungarian citizens as of Saturday, July 16, 2022, while 84,317,923 called Germany home as of Saturday, July 2, 2022.

Most (if not all) of people living in the Lands of St. Stephen are more or less of pure Hungarian origin. The Germans constitute a strange mix of all kinds of Germans (from Bavaria all the way to Prussia, with all kinds of other tribes – formerly principalities – thrown in in between). They also include people who immigrated into the country through the 20th and this centuries, from former-Yugoslavian and Turkish so-called guest workers (Gastarbeiter) to today’s masses of illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East.

Why is this important? Because it impacts politicians’ rhetoric and actions.

The Hungarian proposition

Of the 199 members of the Országgyülés (National Assembly) 130 voted for the demand that European Union (EU) change its ways, while 50 were against.

Hungarian MPs said very emphatically that “The European Union must change because it is unprepared to face today’s challenges.”

They took what they called “ill-considered” sanctions the EU imposed on Russia over its military action in Ukraine as a perfect example. The sanctions’ economic fallout has affected Hungarian citizens more than the Russians, they said.

“Only strong and capable member states are able to protect their citizens,” the Hungarian resolution and demand explained. EU should be supporting its member states “in effective crisis management” rather than dictating to them what they should be doing and how, without often explaining why.

The EU Commission must be forced by re-written EU treaties to become and remain politically and ideologically neutral, the Országgyülés demanded.

The European Parliament should be chosen by the member states’ legislative bodies rather than through direct elections, the resolution goes on. And, while on the topic, national parliaments should also have the right to veto “unwanted EU legislation.”

Native European minorities must be protected, and Europe’s Christian and cultural roots as “the basis of European integration” must be recognised.

And, integration must not be a “goal in itself” but, rather, be a “means” to support the member states’ “national freedom.”

It took the Conference on the Future of Europe to get the Hungarian MPs as upset as to write this resolution. They said, for all reasons and purposes, that the existing European Commission lied when it described the conference as “a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that ran from April 2021 to May 2022 and enabled people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future.”

The final report presented by EU head office in Brussels called for deeper integration and greater “harmonisation” within the EU and pointed to the need to abandon the principle of unanimity in favour of “qualified majority decision-making” in a whole number of fields, from education to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Hungary shot back: the Conference had become “a servant” to forces “interested in abolishing the sovereignty of the member states and increasing the power of EU bureaucracy.”

Herr Kanzler writes back

Vetoing EU’s actions goes against the Union’s hopes to compete in global politics.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote in the prestigious (and formerly high-quality) Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the EU must become a geopolitical factor, and that’s why it can no longer afford letting individual member states veto the bloc’s actions. Using the current war in Ukraine, Scholz insisted that Europe must be (or become) united. The time is now to put an end to the “selfish blockades” of EU decisions by individual members, he wrote.

All 27 member states must sign off on policy decisions, as the EU rules stand now.

Hungary and Slovakia held up the implementation of the EU’s sixth sanctions package against Russia: they need the energy Russia has been supplying and they saw no perspective of anyone replacing the existing supplies.

That forced others to call that EU abandons the principle of unanimity.

One of them was EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, yet another German. The EU, she said, must get rid of the unanimity requirement in matters of foreign policy and should move to qualified majority voting.

What she was suggesting was for Europe to become a single state, with their government sitting in Brussels, and member countries, formerly individual, keeping their mouths shut and go on serving (Maul halten und weiter dienen in German).

“Permanent disunity” and “permanent dissent” was how Scholz called today’s state of things. Unity was Europe’s most important response to the “change of times.”

A revelation

And then came the punch that revealed it all: Germany could bring together “East and West, North and South in Europe” since it was located in the middle of the continent, Scholz concluded. Germany, to him, is the country that “lay on both sides of the Iron Curtain.”

Scholz has been tenacious in trying to succeed where Adolf Hitler’s Third Empire (Drittes Reich) failed: Europe under German command. Does he see himself as the next Führer?

He tried to dress it up in an interview with the German news agency DPA, by saying Ukraine should become EU member without too many candidate steps and similar delays. He said that a major EU reform would make it easier for new countries to join the bloc.

Several countries have been expressing misgivings about further extension of EU, putting forward lists of pre-conditions for potential newcomers.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi echoed Scholz’s words recently, and that ended up leading to a major government crisis during which Draghi offered his resignation. President Sergio Mattarella didn’t accept it, and Italy is in turmoil.

And Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov likened the talk of European unity to attempts to get close to NATO.

Fighting words that offer no bright future.

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