Yesterday, Minister Gergely Gulyás sent a letter to Commission President Juncker asking him to relieve Vice-President Frans Timmermans of his duties on the Commission as long as he is involved in the European Parliament election campaign. The increasingly political nature of his comportment – he says he has had regular contact with George Soros and the Open Society Foundations for years – raises legitimate objections to his presence on the Commission as long as he is also Spitzenkandidat for the Socialists.
That comes on the heels of other unfortunate interventions from the Netherlands.
The Parliament of Hungary turned down a request from the Committee on European Affairs of the Parliament of the Netherlands to pay a visit to Budapest. This wasn’t going to be some collegial professional exchange among democratically MPs of two countries that are EU and NATO allies. No, the predominantly liberal, leftist delegation of Dutch MPs wanted to raise – wait for it – issues such as violations of press freedom and the independence of the judiciary.
These “issues,” of course, are completely in line with the work of yet another Dutch member of parliament, MEP Judith Sargentini. During the debate of the Sargentini report, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was allowed 5+2 minutes to present his government’s position. Far too short to respond to all the charges, so we prepared a 131-page document. I recommend that Sargentini’s colleages, the Dutch MPs, read it carefully before worrying too much about these issues.
So, our Parliament said to the visit, Nee, dank u, and earlier this week, a newspaper in the Netherlands, De Telegraaf, published an article taking issue with that. The correspondent, Rob Savelberg, reached out to me with a long list of questions to which I responded. About the decision to decline the visit, the journalist wrote:
“‘That is a consequence of the disgusting campaign of the pro-immigration parties and their political elite in The Hague,’ said the nationalist prime minister Orbán yesterday to this newspaper.” Except those are my words, not the prime minister’s.
That’s bad journalism. Then he did it again.
“‘The parliament of the Netherlands does not have a right to express an opinion about Hungary,’ says Prime Minister Orbán.” (Again, my words not the PM’s.) And then the correspondent quickly added: “His country has received around EUR 60 billion in European aid since 2004, almost four billion a year.”
Get that? Because poor Hungary is a net recipient of EU funding, we should bow down with deference when a handful of campaigning Dutch MPs want to “raise issues”. The European Commission is the only EU institution, according to the treaties, that has the authority to review a member’s laws. Never mind. And we’ve already discussed media and the judiciary with the Commission and those matters were settled. Never mind.
Put aside also the lack of professional journalism standards. The whole premise of the visit and the tone of the article stands as a shameful example of how much that condescending arrogance persists among so many of the liberal elite in the Netherlands.
Then we got a little love note from the head of the highest court in the Netherlands, Maarten Feteris. Poland and Hungary have not been democratic countries for very long, according to Feteris, and that’s why they have no democratic memory.
Meanwhile, the high court justice said, the Netherlands has the rule of law in its genes.