The Hungarian government has responded to accusations that Hungary breached confidentiality rules during its Article 7 hearing on Dec. 10, with Hungary using the accusation as an opportunity to highlight the far more egregious confidentiality breaches committed by European institutions in their campaign against the country.
Zoltán Kovács, the spokesperson for the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, was accused of violating confidentiality rules when he live-tweeted the Dec. 10 hearing, but in a letter addressed to Tytti Tuppurainen, Minister for European Affairs, Hungary raises questions of how European institutions can attempt to hold member states in violation for misconduct that other member states have never previously been held accountable for.
Hungary is being held to a double-standard
The letter from Gergely Gulyás, a minister from Orbán’s office, stated that it is disturbing how the European institutions “breach, circumvent, or bend procedural rules” and then try to apply to same those rules solely to Hungary.
The Hungarian government pointed out that the European Council itself has already allowed non-public information to become public in the past. citing how the Council allowed an outside individual to access the first Article 7 hearing report from September 2019, which subsequently leaked on the web.
The letter also noted that Hungary remains open to holding an Article 7 hearing that is fully accessible to the public, but considering the hearings remain behind closed doors, leaking documents is in violation of the Council’s own procedures.
The letter also points to other instances of misconduct, including the European Council “disregarding the ongoing annulment procedure against the European Parliament” regarding the European Parliament resolution to trigger Hungary’s Article 7 hearing. Hungary has accused the parliament of a serious breach of the essential procedure rule of not counting abstentions as votes cast when calculating the special majority required to trigger an Article 7 resolution.
Hungary is currently presenting its case before the European Court of Justice to repeal the decision.
Finally, when the European Council put a second hearing on the draft agenda of the General Affairs Council, it was a violation of neutrality expected from the Council president. During the Article 7 hearings, issues were also raised that were well outside the scope permitted through the European Parliament resolution on Article 7.
EU depends on talking points from George Soros’ NGOs
The letter also addressed a pattern of bias that the EU has directed at Hungary, namely that “instead of genuine legal arguments, some Member States and institutions, contrary to the principle of sincere cooperation, echo the accusations of NGOs sponsored by Mr. George Soros’s Open Society Foundations that play an openly political role in domestic and European politics.”
Soros has played a well-documented lobbying role with many of the top members of the European Council and Commission, including numerous face-to-face meetings with politicians opposed to Hungary.
Finland says it will pursue legal options against Hungary
A heated debate has also erupted on Twitter over the European Council’s conduct during the Article 7 hearing, with Kovacs writing:
“It is disturbing when European institutions breach, circumvent or bend procedural rules,” writes Minister Gulyás in written response to Finnish Min @Tyttitup. Read how the Council under Finnish presidency has some explaining to do. Full text of letter here pic.twitter.com/SWtJc5RLth
— Zoltan Kovacs (@zoltanspox) December 13, 2019
Tuppurainen, who is currently part of the Finnish presidency that currently leads the European Council on a rotating basis until Dec. 30, claimed on Twitter that the Hungarian letter is “incomplete” and does not address Kovacs’ tweeting during the meeting. She indicated that the she will be consulting with EU legal services but made no mention of actions taken against the leaking of confidential documents from Hungary’s Article 7 hearing in September 2019.
Kovacs responded to her on Twitter, saying that Hungary also takes violations of procedure seriously.
Despite the continuing campaign against Hungary regarding Article 7, applying the article to Hungary would require unanimous support from all EU member states, which most analysts believe is likely an impossibility, especially with Visegrad Four member states allied with Hungary opposed to such a measure.
Commissioner Didier Reynders indicated they are unlikely to stop their pursuit of Article 7 against Hungary, with Reynders’ saying during the Dec. 10 hearing that it will be a “never-ending process.”