Justice Minister Judit Varga said Europe’s future depends on increasing democratic control over institutions of the European Union.
In her opening address to the international conference marking the 30th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty, Minister Varga assessed to what extent the goals of the treaty had been met. While the treaty was not only aimed at greater integration but maintaining subsidiarity, “what we see now is that crucial decisions are made that neglect the position of communities or even nations by hiding behind the concept of greater integration,” the minister said. As examples, she mentioned the EU’s recent proposal on distributing migrants, arguing that it overlooked a Hungarian referendum in which voters rejected such mechanisms, the EU withholding funds from Hungary and Poland over “differences of political opinion”, and the European citizens’ initiative launched to protect European minorities, which the European Commission refused to put on its agenda. “What we see is the makings of a European empire, jeopardising national identities and traditions, and increasingly endangering the earlier concept of Europe, since this could compromise the ability of member states to promote their own interests,” she said. Whether European integration should be deepened or eased should be determined by member states representing the majority of citizens rather than a body removed from them, the minister said, adding that integration should be encouraged only in those areas where “real value-added can be created for members”. Varga said the biggest challenge for Europe in the near future was whether the practice of the European Parliament and Commission of putting political pressure on individual member states could be pushed back democratically.
Meanwhile, Minister Varga said the Hungarian EU presidency in 2024 would put issues around demography on its agenda, and convince the European Commission that those issues could be resolved “through family policies promoting childbirth rather than through immigration”. The Hungarian government “does not wish to force its family policy on other members, but expects the EU to accept it as one possible approach and to respect this,” she added. The EU is working to “create a rootless European citizen without regard to each country’s socio-cultural characteristics”, as opposed to the Maastricht Treaty, which suggests that cross-border freedoms and rights “can only complement rather than replace the legal practice of member states,” the minister said. “Europe must not be painted monochrome; its traditional diversity should be preserved,” she said.