European Parliament members have slammed Hungarian candidate for the European Commission Olivér Várhelyi, claiming he is too sympathetic to the leader of his own country, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Órban.
Várhelyi, who has served as Hungarian ambassador to the European Union for several years, defended himself against accusations of bias stating, ” As Commissioner, I will represent the EU and run the EU line. I will be loyal,” Sveriges Radio reports.
MEP Marton Gyongyosi, a member of the far-right Hungarian party Jobbik, labelled Várhelyi a “soldier” of Prime Minister Órban’s party Fidesz and asked the commission candidate what would guarantee that he would “serve EU citizens and not Fidesz oligarchs.”
French MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, meanwhile, said, “We need proof of your independence,” and asked Várhelyi to condemn the “illiberal democracy” in Hungary. Várhelyi did not comment on the issue, simply saying he would follow the EU consensus.
Prior to the hearing, several members of the EU Parliament, from the Greens and the Social Democrats primarily, said they would not support his candidacy unless Várhelyi made clear statements withdrawing himself from the policies of Prime Minister Órban.
Orban Buries EU’s Juncker over ‘Blind National Politician’ Comments https://t.co/hV5ohSeht0
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During his speech at the hearing, Várhelyi said he would, as commissioner, look toward convincing various EU member state leaders to begin membership negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania.
While the Órban government has largely been supportive of incoming EU Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen, it has repeatedly clashed with the commission in recent years over several issues such as mass migration.
In September, Prime Minister Órban slammed outgoing EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker saying, “It’s hard to see the world through the eyes of a Luxembourger,” and adding, “In negotiations, I sometimes wonder how my counterpart sees the world. What does someone from Luxembourg say when they want to be proud of themselves or their nation?”
The comments came after Juncker had labelled Órban a “blind national politician,” and added, “his number one concern is his country, not Europe. And that is a huge mistake.”