Hungary Govt: Power-Hungry EU Institutions ‘More of a Problem than a Solution’ in Pandemic

PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images
PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images

The Hungarian government has criticised the EU for its obsession with “taking more and more powers away” from national governments and said it has been a hindrance during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic rather than a help.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s justice minister, Judit Varga, made the comments as the European Parliament was haggling over the pending European Digital Green Certificate — essentially a Covid passport for intra-EU travel.

“While the Member States agree on what kind of certificate they would consider acceptable for their citizens, MEPs are blocking the agreement,” she complained at the time, arguing that the system could have been “implemented without the involvement of the European Parliament.”

“The European institutions take it for granted that the development of the [European] Union is only possible by taking more and more powers away from [the national governments of] the Member States. We think differently. Only strong Member States can build a strong Europe,” the Hungarian said.

“We share the approach of transferring competencies to the Union only in cases in which the Member States are unable to carry out the task effectively,” she added.

“Competencies” is the EU’s rather unassuming term for areas of sovereign policy control — customs and international trade deals and the management of fishing stocks are controlled by the EU institutions as areas of EU “competence”, for example.

“We need a smarter Europe, not more [centralisation], and this has been finally recognised by the liberal media too,” Varga insisted.

This was in reference to the fact that POLITICO, “which cannot be accused for promoting the idea of Europe of nations” — that is, the EU as an alliance of sovereign nation-states rather than a quasi or fully federal United States of Europe — had “noticed the increasing number of national governments asking the same question: why should they suddenly involve the European Parliament in decisions” on things like Covid travel passes.

“The European Parliament has been more of a problem than a solution during the pandemic,” Varga assessed.

Hungary has had arguably the most successful vaccination drive in the European Union, but was controversially forced to import Russian and Chinese vaccines in order to achieve this feat, with the EU’s central procurement programme having suffered from huge delays and shortfalls.

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