Hungarian Conservative

Belgian Prime Minister Against Denying Hungary the EU Presidency in 2024

Ludovic Marin/AFP
Alexander De Croo stated that depriving Hungary the presidency would not only be a bad idea, but it would prove counterproductive as well.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stated that he is not in favour of depriving Hungary of the EU Council Presidency, as reported by the Belgian Times.

The PM opined that such a decision would be counterproductive. Belgium will have the European Union Council Presidency during the first part of 2024, then it will be Hungary’s turn, but resistance to the country’s presidency has emerged in the European Parliament.

In a recent resolution, MEPs criticised the Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, for its alleged ‘complete disregard for the rule of law’. The European Parliament also declared its disapproval of the Hungarian presidency of the European Council of Ministers and urged the other Member States to come up with a ‘solution’ to the problem.

On Tuesday, 13 June the Belgian PM said that while he shares the Parliament’s concerns, he believes that

it is ‘not a good idea at all’ to deprive Hungary of the presidency.

In my view, it would be counterproductive. The presidency is not only a privilege, but it is also a duty. It obliges a Member State to show its colours, to play its role as president and to be a conciliator. [Depriving the country] would even put Hungary in a position of luxury’, he stated.

On 1 June, the European Parliament voted to declare Hungary unfit for the presidency of the EU. The resolution against Hungary received 442 votes in favour, 144 against, and 33 abstentions. The resolution questions Hungary’s suitability to assume the rotating presidency of the EU in 2024. It also lists 24 points of criticism, stating that the country violates the rule of law and fundamental rights, and refers to the freezing of EU funds.

In an opinion piece published on Politico, legal expert Alberto Alemanno wrote that preventing Hungary’s presidency is ultimately not about sanctioning Viktor Orbán but about preserving the functioning of the bloc and good governance. According to the legal expert, the chances of preventing Hungary’s EU presidency are greater than ever.

Following the vote, a statement by the Hungarian Ministry of Justice was published. It was mentioned that no contradictory signal has been received from the European Council regarding Hungary assuming the rotating presidency of the EU from July 2024. The statement emphasised that the Ministry of Justice has been actively and intensively preparing for Hungary to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2024 for a year now. During the preparatory period, the ministry organised informational sessions for ministers and state secretaries who will chair Council formations during the presidency.

‘It is unique in the history of the European Union that the same government will hold the rotating presidency in 2011 and 2024, with more than 12 years between the two terms. In Hungary, this extraordinary situation represents a particularly fortunate position in terms of governmental and political stability and continuity’, the press release stated.

The text added that the individuals representing the government are often the same people who participated in the previous presidency and performed the presidency tasks. ‘Thanks to this, we have significant and profound experience, which provides a solid guarantee for the successful implementation of another Hungarian presidency term’, the statement concluded.

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Alexander De Croo stated that depriving Hungary the presidency would not only be a bad idea, but it would prove counterproductive as well.