The EU’s misuse of Article 7 against Hungary – a case of political instrumentalization

The ongoing invocation of Article 7 against Hungary has become a contentious issue within the European Union, revealing deeper political maneuvering rather than a genuine concern for upholding EU values. Hungary's Minister for European Union Affairs János Bóka has highlighted how the Article 7 procedure has been used as a political tool to pressure Hungary on key issues.

Minister Bóka did not mince words in Luxembourg, asserting that "The Article 7 procedure became a political issue during the European Parliamentary election campaign," devolving into a political tool rather than a mechanism for safeguarding democratic principles.

It is clear that the politicization of the procedure turned it into a means of exerting pressure, and it is being used as a method of repression by Brussels to coerce Hungary into adopting specific stances on key issues, being driven by political agendas rather than genuine rule of law concerns.

Minister Bóka emphasized the need for a more objective and constructive debate on rule of law issues. "I hope that after the EU elections, the rhetoric and conflict-driven approach that has characterized this procedure will ease," he noted.

His call for a balanced discussion contrasts sharply with the politically motivated criticisms Hungary has endured. Unfortunately, the minister pointed out that the nature of the process is unlikely to change fundamentally, suggesting it will continue to be used for political purposes. Yet, his emphasis on the need for a less confrontational approach underscores Hungary's commitment to genuine dialogue and resolution in this matter.

The minister also highlighted Hungary's proactive role in advancing crucial strategic discussions within the EU. As Hungary prepares to assume the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1, it aims to steer debates on significant policy areas such as the defense of democracy and preventing malicious interference in EU elections.

"Hungary agrees that malicious interference in the EU's electoral process is undesirable, and the Hungarian presidency will continue to advance this dossier," Bóka affirmed.

In parallel to this, the voices supporting the Article 7 procedure against Hungary reveal the troubling trend of political instrumentalization within the EU.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib recently criticized Hungary for allegedly failing to implement necessary reforms to conclude the Article 7 procedure. "Unfortunately, Hungary has not carried out the necessary reforms to close the Article 7 procedure," she remarked.

Adding to the criticism, Vera Jourová, the European commissioner for values and transparency, mentioned that the upcoming Hungarian EU Presidency is an opportunity for Hungary to demonstrate its ability to act “fairly and professionally.”

As if this hasn’t always been the case…

Their criticisms seem to overlook the politically charged nature of the procedure itself and suggest that rapid closure of such procedures is possible with “the right political will.” They fail to acknowledge the validity of the concerns of the Hungarian people and the unique political pressures Hungary faces within the EU, dismissing and devaluing Hungary's consistent efforts to engage constructively within the EU framework, despite facing undue political pressure.

Minister Bóka’s statements in Luxembourg reflect Hungary's frustration with being unfairly targeted for political reasons. As Hungary takes on the EU Presidency, there is a pressing need for a shift towards more objective and constructive discussions, focusing on genuine policy issues rather than political posturing. This approach will be crucial in maintaining the integrity and inclusiveness of the European Union for the foreseeable future.