Janos Boka – Photo: Facebook

Boka: Realistic assessment of EU membership, EU needed

A realistic assessment of Hungary's European Union membership and the EU itself is needed, Janos Boka, the EU affairs minister, told a conference on Monday, declaring at the same time the country's EU membership "a historic success based on national consensus".

Boka said at the event marking the 20th anniversary of EU membership that when Hungary joined the bloc, there had been “no alternative”, and this remained the case today.

But a sober assessment of Hungary’s EU membership could “provide lessons for the future”, he added.

Boka said clarity could be achieved by casting a critical eye “on the myths” of the EU, which he called “the most important task” of the years ahead.

He argued that the “alignment narrative” envisaged a single model determined by French and German economic and social development, while those countries that joined in 2004 saw a “unifying narrative” in European reunification and integration whereby national identity and constitutional traditions were seen as important.

A conflict of narratives ensued, and member states with a divergent position were forced to change their position under the weight of political, institutional and financial sanctions, he said.

According to the sovereigntist view, he said, member states were “the masters of European integration’s future” and exercised certain rights jointly, especially in areas where action by individual members was insufficiently effective.

Boka said member states were the “sole bearers of sovereignty” and alone could decide which powers they wished to exercise jointly.

Central and eastern European member states saw the sense of pooling certain powers with a view to enhancing their common strength, but their goal was not create power structures over and above nation states, he insisted.

Politically, medium-sized and smaller member states, he said, were “ineffective” in combatting the institutional strategy of the ever closer union.

Meanwhile, Boka said the European Parliament saw itself as “the custodian of European democracy” and was attempting to broaden its powers. The European Commission, for its part, was “no longer a just a political commission but a geopolitical one, too”, he added.

Its independent political agenda, he said, did not align with the political agenda of EU member states, and it was using all available means to enforce its political agenda.

Boka said the European court of justice did not regard the EU as a legal community but saw itself as the final arbiter of EU values, and this severed the link between the EU and the courts and constitutional courts of member states.

The minister said one myth that must be dispelled was that beneficiary member states should accept the interests of the net contributors, added that, ad absurdum, EU resources would only go to those who accept policies dictated to them.

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