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Stumpf: Europe ‘struggling to find identity’

Europe is currently "struggling to find its own identity", Istvan Stumpf, a member of the prime minister's Strategic Council, told a conference on the rule of law organised by the Danube Institute, the Center for Fundamental Rights and The European Conservative journal, on Tuesday.

“What we see is not a constitutional crisis but one of identity, and the debates on the rule of law are in fact reflections of a conflict between different sets of values,” Stumpf said in his address.

Talking about an ideal concept of the rule of law, Stumpf said a discussion of the rule of law “has become a part of daily politics with the two sides of the political spectrum routinely accusing each other of disrespecting the rule of law.” In Europe, rule of law disputes are about the independence of judges, civil society and media freedoms, “especially in Hungary and in Poland, where the elected conservative governments’ vision on the future of Europe is in stark contrast with that of the Brussels mainstream,” Stumpf said.

He said Europe in recent decades had lost its “role of setting an example and acting as a renewer,” and insisted that “an overgrowth of EU bureaucracy and the suppression of the national interest has created a shadow power that lacks any democratic authorisation and is only interested in building a federal structure above member states”.

“This is a war between the ideals of sovereign nation states and an ideal of sovereignty and democracy superimposing nations,” he said. A lack of consensus concerning the definition and essence of the rule of law “could be used as a weapon against nations … accusations against some members is actually a legal disguise for antagonistic interests, preventing values and ideals different from those of the mainstream from being presented as an alternative vision for Europe’s future,” Strumpf said.

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