Hungary is a full member of the European Union since 2014. The expectations were high for the Central European country who had to experience the nightmare of communism. However, since the last years, the relation between Budapest and Brussels was often more than challenging. But how should the EU deal with a member state government which does not fear any confrontation?
-First, it would not be the right decision to avoid more dialogue. Even if it sounds first reasonable, this option would never lead to a good result. It is rather important to try to understand the other parties concern. Therefore, the S&D organized a youth conference in Budapest to encourage the dialogue with the Hungarian young citizen. More events like this are needed to start conversations which lead to agreements.
So, if you encourage the dialogue, for instance with your family member, but the other party still does not want to listen, what would be the next step?
In the case of Hungary, this meant that Budapest did not cooperated with the relocation agreement, to accept refugees. The Eurosceptic government rejects to relocate migrants from frontline states Italy and Greece to help ease their burden. Therefore, it is now important to stand up for your values and to ensure your credibility. Stricter action is now the right decision.
-Second, the EU decided to take legal actions against the Eastern state, what was the right way to show Budapest that a Union should not exist in good times only, but also in bad ones. It is only possible to handle these long-term crises together as a Union. As Gianni Pittella said: “Solidarity works both ways.“
However, if the other party is going further, turning away from democratic principles, and put into question what you stand for? Hungary’s Prime Minister has been using populist language and hard Euroscepticism since the last years. A climate of mistrust was created, and in this climate even the issue of death penalty has been reintroduced to the public discourse. However, death penalty is against values and European law.
-Third, the EU clearly needs to name and oppose Orban’s inexcusable actions. Xenophobic language should be taken seriously and should not be accepted inside the EU.
However, if Budapest is further turning away from European principles, the EU should reconsider Fidesz EPP Group membership. As with the family member, suspending would be the last step you want to choose, but this option needs to be considered if Orban is not going to change its position.
-Fourth, if Hungary’s government is not going to accept the legal actions, the EPP should reconsider Hungary’s membership. However, this should only be taken as a final option. The EU should always be open for dialogue with Budapest.
Finally, Brussels should encourage the dialogue with Budapest and its citizen since many of them, in particular the youth generation, is not in favor with Orban’s actions. Additionally, legal action should be taken into account if Hungary is rejecting European agreements. If Hungary is not going to change its asylum policy, the EPP should reconsider Fidesz membership. But as seen with the anecdote with the family member: Facing problems inside a family can be more challenging, than facing them outside.