German State Secretary for European Affairs Anna Lührmann expressed on Tuesday 30 May "doubts" about Hungary's ability to hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2024, echoing the concerns of MEPs.
Hungary, led by nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, "is currently isolated within the European Union because of problems related to the rule of law that are really serious," the German official said during a meeting with her European counterparts in Brussels.
Hungary 'leaves doubt'
Moreover, she stressed, Hungary "always leaves doubt about its support for Ukraine in Russia's brutal war of aggression." "That is why I have doubts about Hungary's ability to carry out its presidency of the Council," she continued. Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra also expressed his "discomfort" at the prospect of Hungary's EU presidency. "That's how we all feel," he said. Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga defended her country's ability to hold the rotating presidency by organising the debates "in good faith".
Hungary already held this rotating presidency in the first half of 2011. Judit Varga castigated the "political pressure" of the European Parliament which plans to vote this Thursday a resolution on the subject, judging this discussion "senseless". How will Viktor Orban's government "be able to fulfil its task in a credible manner in view of its failure to respect EU law and values", asks the draft resolution, which asks the Council to "find a solution as soon as possible".
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The text was presented by several of the main political groups in the hemicycle - EPP (right), S&D (Socialists and Democrats), Renew Europe (centrists and liberals), Greens, GUE/NGL (radical left). The Council of the EU, in which ministers from member states discuss EU legislation, is chaired in turn for six months by each of the 27 EU countries. Hungary is in conflict with Brussels over failures in the fight against corruption, the independence of the media and the judiciary, and the EU has suspended billions of euros of EU funds that were to be paid to the country in response. Moreover, since the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, Viktor Orban refuses to help Kiev militarily, blames the policy of sanctions against Moscow and maintains ties with the Kremlin.