Janos Boka – Photo: Facebook

Boka: Left supports ‘raw political pressure’ by EU

The European Commission and the European Parliament have used the EU's procedures against Hungary "to exert raw political pressure ... with the Hungarian leftist parties actively supporting it," Janos Boka, the European affairs minister, said in parliament's European affairs committee on Tuesday.

“The principle of equal competition is violated if an EU member cannot access EU funds because of such political pressure,” Boka said. The situation is “all the more serious … if that happens because of leftist deputies acting against the national interest,” he added.

“It is now beyond any doubt that Hungary isn’t gaining access to EU funding for political reasons,” he said, adding that the EU procedures against Hungary did not serve European values.

The parliamentary committee is investigating the leftist parties’ activities at the initiative of ruling Fidesz MEP Tamas Deutsch.

Boka said the freezing of Hungary’s funds had nothing to do with protecting the EU’s financial interests or core values and “everything is to do with the Hungarian government’s stance on the war in Ukraine”.

He insisted that the Hungarian left wing had not “missed a single opportunity” to act against national interests either at home or in Brussels. The Article 7 procedure against Hungary is now in its sixth year, he said, adding that it was unclear what its legal basis or purpose was. Boka said it appeared the procedure was open-ended and was being used to exert pressure on the Hungarian government.

Referring to the application of the conditionality procedure and other moves against Hungary related to the judiciary, he said the government had agreed on 17 measures with the European Commission, but when the agreement was published, the Hungarian left wing launched “an intensive campaign” to put pressure on the EC to change its position.

Noting the opening of so-called horizontal enabling conditions related to the judiciary, he said so far “no concerns have arisen regarding the independence of the Hungarian judiciary”. Once parliament had accepted the negotiated justice package, the left wing again launched a campaign, he insisted, resulting in the European Court of Justice initiating changes to the text of the law whose wording was based on the outcome of the original negotiations, he said.

Boka also noted pressure on Hungary to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, saying this was also a way to exert political pressure on the government. He also mentioned a campaign by left-wing politicians to link the transfer of EU funds to the adoption of “an as yet unspecified educational reform”.

None of these actions, he said, were about protecting European values but rather about putting “crude political pressure” on Hungary. In addition, the Hungarian left, Boka said, was helping in endeavours to “significantly reduce cohesion resources in the next EU budget cycle”.

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