A stab in the back

The author of this guest post is the director of the Center for Fundamental Rights.

On Wednesday, The European Commission decided to launch a rule of law procedure against Hungary. The proceedings commence at a time when the need to safeguard the internal unity of the European Union is paramount. In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, Hungary, as a loyal member of the Western alliance, has supported all common EU proposals, including on the issue of sanctions against Russia. With this decision, the Commission is driving a wedge between the member states. In the midst of a war in the EU's neighbourhood and the accompanying economic crisis, the Brussels institutions are engaging in a political dispute with Hungary without a legal basis and in an illegal manner. In light of this, it is clear that the Commission's latest move against Hungary can only be described as a stab in the back.

This unfolded shortly after the Hungarian parliamentary elections of April 3rd, which gave the Hungarian governing parties an unprecedented political mandate to continue the work of the past 12 years, and the referendum held concurrently saw an even greater turnout in favour of the cause of child protection.

The decision of Hungarian voters, however, seems of no interest to the Brussels institutions. For EU leaders, democracy is only important when the political forces they favour come to power, and when federalists can dictate what democracy means and what its rules are in the member states.

With the Commission's decision on Wednesday, it has also become evident that this EU body is incapable of resisting political blackmail from the European Parliament. For months now, this Parliament, with its left-liberal majority, has been the most vocal in demanding that Hungary be punished and that resources from the Recovery Fund be suspended.

The rule of law procedure has long since ceased to be a legal debate, and the objections made by the Brussels institutions are unfounded. In reality, the procedure is a Federalist tool of applying political and ideological pressure. The EU institutions also seek to force the Hungarian government to abandon its relevant domestic positions, Hungarian interests regarding child protection and the reduction of utility costs. Hungary would not bend to their will, and therefore, the rule of law procedure has been initiated.

The Commission's aim is clear: to punish Hungary and Hungarian voters and to withhold, or at least delay, EU funds that are due to Hungary. The EU body wants to make an example of the country. It wants to send a message to all member states that there could be serious political and financial consequences if they choose to stand up for national interests or fail to comply with Brussels' "expectations".