What lessons has Hungary learned in its 20 years of EU membership?

The European Union is losing its spiritual, moral, and intellectual grounding, writes Magyar Hírlap columnist László Bogár

European Union flags flap in the wind outside EU headquarters in Brussels, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
By Dénes Albert
5 Min Read

Twenty years in the life of a person, and of a country, is long enough to pause and reflect on what the two decades we have been part of the European Union have really meant.

Before we get into that, it is perhaps worth mentioning an episode that occurred just before the admission of eight countries to the European Union in 2004, in the spring of 2003. At that time, the United States invaded Iraq on the basis of primitive lies, and, of course, tried to use the whole world as a simple source of legitimacy. But, surprisingly enough, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder condemned the U.S. imperial intervention very strongly as a serious threat to the balance of power in the world. More surprisingly, the governments of the eight accession countries, including Hungary, issued a joint memorandum strongly supporting the aggressive action of the United States.

This may be an important element in the assessment of the last 20 years because it shows that the European Union’s power structures were already defined back then by its relationship to U.S. global imperial interests. In other words, whether it is able to formulate an autonomous interpretative framework and set of concepts in the global space that allows Europe to represent its identity, or whether it can be interpreted as a mere collaborative structure, a kind of machine located in Europe but operating as a driving force of the U.S. empire.

To better understand the spectacular intellectual downward spiral of the last 20 years, on which the elites of Europe are now being dragged down unopposed by the United States, it is worth briefly reviewing the whole post-war period from this perspective, or more specifically, looking back to the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, the first form of European integration, followed in the late 1950s by the creation of the European Economic Community.

The success of European integration has been an American imperial interest for almost half a century. But since the 1990s — and, as we have seen, since the turn of the millennium — this relationship has changed radically. The reduction of global transaction costs has increasingly come under the control of a new global power economy in China, and the resulting increasingly spectacular German-Russian-Chinese Eurasian cooperation system has begun to reduce the unit costs of world operations explicitly against, and even at the expense of, the U.S. imperial power economy.

Europe’s role as a “showcase” for U.S. imperial legitimacy became irrelevant, even counterproductive, and with the climate, migration, the hidden wars of gender, and the provocation of the Russian-Ukrainian war, i.e., an open and bloody war, the destruction of Europe’s identity, and the promotion of anarchy and chaos, became the main U.S. imperial objective.

The courageous action of Chirac and Schröder in 2003 was, of course, also an indication that while the intellectual stability of Europe’s elites is indeed determined by the American empire, there is, at least in principle, another strategy to counter this cynical collaborationist submission: a bold and decisive confrontation, a courageous assertion of Europe’s identity on all the issues that determine the deepest identity of our continent. This would, of course, require knowledge, courage, and honor, to mention only the main virtues.

This is the main lesson of our 20 years of EU membership. In other words, without spiritual, moral, and intellectual energy, there is no chance of stopping this downward slide. Hungary is the only member state that is at least capable of stating all this. The elections will decide whether there is any chance of doing more than that.

SOURCES:László Bogár
Share This Article