Is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban Dangerous for Europe?

Europe understands the limited possibilities to protect its values in the member countries

Over the 60 years of its existence, the European Union failed to agree on the ambitious goal of the European liberal project with the national interests of the integration process participants.

With the deepening systemic crisis of the EU, it became clear that EU membership does not provide welfare and security, but makes you a hostage to new challenges (financial, immigration crisis, a wave of social and cultural liberalization). The return of control to the level of state structures against the background of growing distrust towards the European bureaucrats has become a major requirement not only of eurosceptics and right populist movement, but the ruling parties in European countries. For example, in the UK, this trend has led to Brexit, in Hungary to sovereign domestic policy in the framework of building a model of “illiberal democracy”.

The survival instinct forces the EU to take countermeasures. The UK is facing a very tough demonstration of the Brexit negotiation process to keep other countries from following the example of the British.

Influence tool on Hungary, where domestic policy goes against liberal European values, is the article 7 of the EU Treaty, providing for the imposition of sanctions against member countries that violate the main EU values, that is the launch of the so-called process for the legal state protection. This measure has been applying since 2014 and includes several stages of impact on the offender. At the first stage the rules require the member country to make changes in politics which is not acceptable to the EU. The second stage is the European Council in agreement with the European Parliament can adopt a resolution on “definite threat to the main values” of the European Union. Then, if the other European countries voted unanimously, the member country may lose the right to vote in the EU.

The European Parliament on May 17 has adopted a resolution on the process for the legal state protection. By this time, the EU has accumulated a lot of claims to the Prime Minister V. Orban.

In 2015 at the peak of the immigration crisis Hungary, along with Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania voted against introducing refugee-admission quotas. Although this decision was made by the qualified majority, Hungary together with Poland ignores it. At the same time, Prime Minister Viktor Orban invited to Hungary “real refugees”, i.e. citizens of Western countries who “were forced to flee their European homeland from liberalism and godlessness”. It is noteworthy that the Germans, the French, and the Dutch moved to Hungary because of fear of refugees from the Middle East. Property prices in Hungary rose immediately.

In the focus of the EU Commission is also initiated by Orban campaign against the EU under the slogan “Let’s stop Brussels!”. Orban holds a “national consultation” on the “dangerous plans of Brussels”. In the context of the EU critique for the treatment in Hungary with refugees who are in transit camps on the border with Serbia, one of the questions was: “There are a lot of terrorist acts in Europe. Despite this, Brussels wants to force Hungary to accept illegal immigrants. What should Hungary do?”. The choice offered two answers: to put migrants under control or allow them to move freely around Hungary.

The EU fears that the new law on higher education introduced at the end of March 2017 by the Ministry of Education will jeopardize the Liberal Central European University (CEU), established in 1991 under financial support of American billionaire G. Soros. The University has graduated 12 thousand students from different countries; many of graduates joined the corps of politicians and businessmen in the countries of South-Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

According to Orban, Soros undermines the interests of Hungary through his Open Society Foundations. The Hungarian Prime Minister has the similar opinion in respect of the CEU, which operates without the necessary accreditation and does not provide the required information.

The new law has a number of requirements for 28 universities which are illegal. Under the new requirements, foreign universities operating in Hungary must implement the educational process in the country of origin with the equivalent number of faculty and academic programs. CEU cannot implement this requirement financially, as it depends on sponsorship. The work of foreign universities is possible only on the basis of bilateral treaties of Hungary with the country of universities origin. In addition, universities in the future do not have the right to cooperate with other non-European universities for the training programs of graduates.

In fact, the new law on higher education takes under control universities, whose activities can be directed at the erosion of the principles of sovereign statehood. In the EU, a new law was qualified as a restriction of freedom of science, research and teaching. The Hungarian government rejects any criticism and emphasizes that it is aimed at the eliminating the anarchy and autonomy in foreign academic programmes, making them legitimate. So, CEU, in contrast to Hungarian universities, provides the possibility of obtaining two diplomas – Hungarian and American.

Lawsuit against Hungary is hardly going to impress Viktor Orban, who strongly defended its policy in the European Parliament and even called the founder of CEU G. Soros “American financial speculator”.

Hungary Soros Orban EU