Once elected, EU Commission President has turned her back on Hungary

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Contrary to the high hopes many had for the new European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has disappointingly continued to act as a political agent, just like her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, did, Attila Kovács, analyst at the Hungarian think tank Center for Fundamental Rights said in an overview of the new Commission’s first year.
According to Kovács, the previous Juncker Commission committed two political blunders: It misunderstood the 2015 migrant crisis, and Brexit also happened under its watch. In 2019, therefore, there was a sense of hope that the new Commission, led by von der Leyen, would be less of a political body and more focused on smoothing conflicts between member states.
This expectation has not been met: The new Commission also sees itself as a political actor, and what is more, its political objectives are exacerbating the differences between the member states. It has become clear that the President of the Commission relies more on the left-wing majority of the European Parliament in her work.
Kovács said that it is a particular disappointment for Hungary that, although von der Leyen needed Hungarian support to win the presidency, she turned her back on Hungary after taking office.
The Commission has been strong in churning out papers but weak in crisis management
Kovács also said that the Commission has recently put a very dangerous proposal on the table regarding migration. The distribution of migrants between member states is still included, albeit covertly, in its September proposal; furthermore, under the November action plan, the Commission would give migrants the right to vote as part of encouraging political participation.
Regarding the coronavirus crisis, Kovács said that the Commission had made a number of mistakes: It was late in recognizing the severity of the crisis, its response to the economic damage caused by the crisis was to drive member states deeper into debt, and it reserves the right to decide what vaccines member states can use to protect their citizens.
In conclusion, he said the Commission had been strong in producing papers in its first year but weak in crisis management. Deputy project manager of the think tank Orsolya Kurucz emphasized that in her speech on the state of the Union that von der Leyen also raised the possibility of moving from the rule of unanimity to qualified majority voting on certain foreign policy issues, which clearly undermines member states’ competences and is unacceptable from the point of view of national sovereignty.
Rule of law: Continue on Juncker Road
On the issue of the rule of law, the current European Commission has not only continued but surpassed the work of the Juncker committee. At the end of September, it presented its first annual report on the rule of law in the member states, which, instead of the objective and comparable criteria it had promised in advance, was a subjective assessment subject to political pressure, with several factual errors.
Moreover, linking the resources of the EU budget and the European Recovery Fund to the rule of law has generated an even greater division between member states rather than focusing on joint and effective action in times of crisis.
Kurucz emphasized that the EU institutions and member states are also significantly behind in the process of defining the future of the EU. For years, no substantial progress has been made in laying down the principles on which we envisage future cooperation within the EU.
The institutions and member states have been debating for months who should chair this process. However, this inaction not only projects a bad image of the European Union to the outside world but is also a distress signal to EU citizens about the future of the organization.
Title image: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP)

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