As usual, Hungary and Justice Minister Judit Varga are at the center when the EU ministers of the EU countries gather for a meeting in Brussels.
On today’s agenda is yet another hearing in the ongoing so-called Article 7 process, on whether Hungary fulfills basic principles regarding the rule of law and democracy.
Sweden’s new EU minister Jessika Roswall (M) is ready to ask.
— One of the points that the commission has pointed out is the independence of judges, so I intend to ask how they have worked with that, says Roswall on his way into the meeting.
At the same time, most of the interest right now revolves around another EU process against Hungary. It concerns the EU Commission’s proposal from September to withhold the equivalent of SEK 80 billion in support to the country, due to concerns about the fight against corruption and fraud.
In that process, Minister Varga is getting ready to respond formally in a letter to the commission tomorrow.
She believes that Hungary listened and did the right thing.
— I am very optimistic. We are fully in line with the Commission’s proposal. We are on the right track to find a negotiated compromise, says Varga on his way into today’s meeting.
Criticism in parliament
However, the EU Parliament does not agree. The four heaviest party groups held a press conference yesterday where they urged the Commission and the EU countries to continue to resist.
For the Swedish part, Jessika Roswall is on hold for the time being.
— I am positive that Hungary has reforms that people want to look at and put forward. Then it’s about seeing how they are implemented, and I’m also looking forward to hearing more about that today at the meeting, says the EU minister in Brussels.
The commission is expected to come up with its view on what Hungary has done on November 29 or 30. After that, it will be up to the finance ministers of the EU countries to consider whether the money should be paid out or not.
Do not mix up!
While Hungary is waiting for its money, the country is at odds with the rest of the EU on a number of difficult issues. It has stopped the introduction of a common minimum level for corporate tax, says no to new EU loans in support of Ukraine and speaks loudly that it does not want more sanctions against Russia and prefers to let the current ones expire.
The critics accuse the rulers in Budapest of using the issues as negotiating weapons – and also point out that Hungary is the only EU country that has not yet ratified Sweden’s and Finland’s membership in NATO.
However, no such thing is said publicly by Hungary. And in Sweden, the government does not want to connect the issues.
TT: If it were to be between Hungary getting its money or Hungary ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership. What is most important for Sweden then?
“They are completely different processes, which I don’t think should be mixed up at all,” says Jessika Roswall.