The European Union is faced with enormous challenges to enforce its founding principles and values in all member countries, says Daniel Kelemen, MAXCAP Advisory Board member, with regards to Hungary’s role in the ongoing European migrant crisis. In two recent articles for the Washington Post
and Foreign Affairs
, Kelemen draws attention to the EU’s inability to prevent democratic backsliding, nationalism and violation of human rights in Hungary: “The EU’s difficulties in confronting the Orbán regime raise doubts about the union’s ability and willingness to uphold its core values when they are threatened by a member government.”
Drawing on research in comparative politics, Keleman points out that the emergence of authoritarian or illiberal regimes – as might currently be witnessed in Hungary – is not unusual on the state or provincial level of an otherwise intact national or federal democracy. As Orbán’s Fidesz party is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP), party politics and the interest to maintain a majority in the European Parliament have, according to Kelemen, prevented any efforts to increase the pressure on the Hungarian government.
Keleman thus calls for more decisive action by the European Commission, which should make clear that Hungary, or any other country in question, is engaged in a systemic breach of the EU’s fundamental values. To this end, he proposes for the European Union to invoke Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, suspending Hungary’s voting rights within the EU and calls for an interruption of the funding Hungary receives from the EU – currently amounting to around 6% of the country’s GDP. Relevant to MAXCAP’s research objective of enhancing the EU’s internal integration capacity and securing the “lock-in” of institutional change in new members, Kelemen also asks how the EU could go beyond routine “infringement procedures” for violations of EU law, which have so far proven inadequate to secure the compliance to EU law in all member states.