EU defends Jourova against Hungary’s resignation request
The European Commission defended Vice-President Vera Jourova on Tuesday (September 29) against a demand for Hungary’s resignation.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in a letter to committee chair Ursula von der Leyen, said the resignation of Jourova, who oversees EU values, was “indispensable”.
The love at first sight came after Jourova said, in a interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, that Orban is building a “bad democracy” – a pun on the self-proclaimed “illiberal” democracy of the Hungarian prime minister.
“President von der Leyen is working closely with Vice-President Jourova on the rule of law, and the vice-president has the president’s full confidence,” commission spokesperson Dana Spinant said on Tuesday.
Jourova also criticized media freedom in Hungary in the interview, saying that “there is hardly any criticism of the government in the Hungarian media, so that a large majority of Hungarians can no longer make up their minds. free opinion ”.
Orban responded that Jourova’s comments were a “direct political attack on the democratically elected government” in Hungary. The prime minister also called his remarks “derogatory”, “unacceptable” and “insulting” to Hungarians, and incompatible with his current mandate.
And Orban concluded that the comments violated the principle of sincere cooperation enshrined in the EU treaty, preventing a future “meaningful” dialogue between Hungary and Jourova, and suspending bilateral contacts with it.
“Members of the committee should be able to talk to member states on all kinds of issues, including difficult things,” replied committee spokesman Christian Wigan.
“The commission continues to stand ready for a dialogue, our doors are open,” he added.
German European Affairs Minister Michael Roth also defended Jourova, saying that “the European Union needs your impartial and clear mind” and adding: “thank you for your tireless commitment”.
Several MEPs also defended the Czech commissioner.
“Could we stop this circus, Judit Varga?” Green MEP Sergey Lagodinsky tweeted – referring to the Hungarian Minister of Justice.
“Jourova did not call Hungary a ‘sick democracy’, she called Orban’s vision of his country a ‘sick democracy’. This campaign of intimidation must stop! Do not benefit the credibility of your government.” , he added.
Hungary’s call for Jourova’s resignation came a day before the committee published its first-ever rule of law review of all EU member states, including Hungary – which is currently under review. being investigated for violating EU rules and values.
“Our concerns about the rule of law situation are well known, they will be addressed in our rule of law report to be adopted tomorrow,” said commission spokesperson Spinant.
Jourova herself, as well as Justice Commissioner Dider Reynders, are expected to present the report on Wednesday.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Monday announced the creation of a new Polish-Hungarian rule of law institute to counter EU attacks.
The attack on Jourova also puts Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in a difficult position – as he appointed her to the committee and she is from his ANO party, yet Babis is an ally of Orban.
Orban’s Letter is the latest movement in a series of belligerent political statements and movements from Budapest.
Orban last week rejected the commission’s new migration proposal, after the EU executive had already moved closer to Hungary’s anti-migration stance to gain Budapest’s support for a deal.
On Monday, the latest draft compromise on the link between the rule of law and EU funds presented by the German EU presidency also refined the proposal to move closer to Hungary’s position.
However, Varga on Tuesday called the project “unacceptable”.
Earlier this month, Hungary – and later Poland – warned that if rule of law conditionality did not suit them, they would not give the green light to the necessary EU levy legislation that will unlock the 750 billion euro corona recovery fund.
Daniel Hegedus, a member of the German Marshall Fund, argues that the attack on Jourova is part of Orban’s “open extortion” and “hostage-taking” policy against Brussels.
“As the ratification of the Hungarian parliament is necessary for the decision on ‘own resources’, Orban now wants a clear victory and he does not want to enter into any compromises, whether it is about migration or the watered down German proposal of Rule of law. Said Hegédus.
Hegedus said Orban also seeks to undermine the cohesion of the EU executive and the legitimacy of the rule of law review itself.
“Orban could calculate that if the cohesion of the commission is so weak that it sacrifices [trade commissioner Phil] Hogan, then Jourova and her rule of law portfolio could be severely weakened by such an attack, ”he said.
Hogan resigned in August for violating Irish coronavirus measures.
Hegedus added that if von der Leyen, who is from the center-right European People’s Party, does not see this as an attack on his entire committee – despite Jourova coming from the liberal political family – it will weaken the position of power of the European executive.