Meps Cast Doubt On Hungary Chairing EU Meetings

(MENAFN- Jordan Times) BRUSSELS - EU lawmakers on Thursday questioned how Hungary could "credibly" assume the bloc's presidency late next year in a resolution highlighting Budapest's "backsliding" on European Democratic values.

In a vote, 442 MEPs - more than 60 per cent of the legislature - urged EU countries to find a "proper solution", warning that otherwise the parliament "could take appropriate measures".

The resolution, though, was largely symbolic.

EU officials - and Budapest - stress that European Union treaty law requires the EU presidency to rotate among the 27 member states and there is little scope to change the line-up.

Several EU countries have nonetheless expressed concern about Hungary taking on the EU presidency in the second half of 2023.

German European affairs minister Anna Luehrmann this week expressed "doubts" about how "isolated" Hungary could carry out the presidency.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said his and other member states felt "discomfort" at the prospect of Hungary taking on the role.

The presidency position essentially puts an EU country in as the chair of bloc meetings, able to set their agendas.

Yet Hungary is in hot water with Brussels for alleged breaches of rule of law standards, notably on corruption, discriminating against the LGBTQ community, undermining independent media and governing largely by decree.

It has also raised hackles among EU partners for its ties to the Kremlin and lack of support for Ukraine as Kyiv battles the Russian invasion.

Brussels has frozen billions of euros of EU money until Budapest can show serious efforts to change problematic policies and laws.

It is also working through a long-running process against Hungary that theoretically could lead to the country losing voting rights in EU matters.

Reacting to the MEPs' vote, Hungarian President Katalin Novak said she was "rightly confident" that nothing would prevent her country assuming the EU presidency next year.

A Hungarian MEP, Balazs Hidveghi, said the parliament had "attacked" his country for its "pro-peace position", in reference to Budapest's argument that no more EU money should be used to support Ukraine's military.

"This is a gross violation of the existing EU treaties," he said in comments reported by Hungarian news agency MTI.

Sweden currently holds the six-month EU presidency, which is to be taken up next month by Spain before rotating to Belgium in the first half of 2024.

The presidency rotation has skipped a country once before. Britain, which was meant to have held it in 2017, gave it up because it voted the year before to leave the EU.


Jordan Times

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