The European Project has been stopped in its tracks
27. 01. 2017.
In an English language article published in The Hungarian Review on 24 January, and which was also featured in the American conservative magazine The National Review, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán states the following: “Judging from population, natural resources, and human capital, the European Union should be the leading power of the world. For the moment, however, its stagnation obstructs its potential leadership”.

“What we call the European Project has been stopped in its tracks”, Mr. Orbán continues, highlighting financial problems, and adding that “All that is bad enough. Worse, however, the EU is faced with a series of unexpected crises”, which he lists as the euro crisis, illegal immigration and a geopolitical situation that together threaten the EU with disintegration. The Prime Minister concludes that “This is a gloomy diagnosis”.

The Prime Minister provides a short review of the most important events of the more than 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, through EU expansion and finally Brexit. With regard to the latter, he writes that it indicates a major turning point, being the first instance of the EU losing a Member State – a loss which could be “the harbinger of eventual disintegration”.

Instead of dealing with these problems, the EU “seems to be content to wallow in self-tormenting recrimination”. As examples of this Mr. Orbán cites the recent “controversial attacks” on Hungary and Poland. “One has the impression these days that the European Union consists of institutions, and that the Member States only exist to support their operations”, Mr. Orbán writes, going on to list the mistakes that have led to this state of affairs.

According to the Prime Minister, the most significant error is the increasing role of the European Parliament, which in his opinion can only serve to reduce the efficiency of Europe’s institutions. As a second mistake he cites the fact that the European Commission has been allowed to become an independent political player, in contrast with its original role as “guardian of the Treaties”.

“Whenever the prime ministers fail to reach consensus on an issue – and the mandatory migrant quota was one such case – it has seemingly become routine for the Commission to introduce binding policy measures”, the Prime Minister writes, adding that Brussels is covertly exercising rights that should be the exclusive preserve of Member States.

According to Mr. Orbán, a third mistake is that, with only a two-thirds majority vote, it has been made possible for the European Council to make decisions that are vital to the national interests of Member States. As an example he cited the fact that, despite the opposition of several countries, the Council is trying to push through regulations on the mandatory relocation quota, using loopholes and with the support of the larger Member States. It is apparent that the European Commission is prepared to continue this practice of introducing measures in defiance of the will of at least one third of EU Member States, he said.

The EU will not be successful unless it involves people in the struggle against the various challenges it faces. “We need every person, every nation and every Member State, if we are to win this fight. No institution can ever replace a state […] The institutions are for the Member States, and not the other way round”, writes Mr. Orbán, according to whom a “rational and firm change” in EU policy is required.

The Prime Minister continues by discussing how order may be restored within the EU. In his opinion, the answer is relatively simple if we “subscribe to the principle of ‘unity in diversity’. We must return to the consistent application of European law. We must measure one another with the same yardstick”. According to Mr. Orbán, many believe that the current crisis in Europe is the result of our having ignored the regulations we ourselves adopted, thus endangering the two most important European acquis: the shared currency and the internal market protected by Schengen.

The Prime Minister devotes a significant part of his long article to the migration crisis, calling mass migration the greatest threat facing Europe: in his opinion this poses a danger to many aspects of life, from the financial stability of countries to culture.

The Prime Minister writes that “2015 marked the end of an age when we could take Europe’s secure and sheltered status for granted”. He asks why it was the Hungarians and the people of Eastern Europe who were the first to recognise this danger. The explanation, he suggests, lies in the different histories of Eastern and Western Europe over the past 50 to 60 years.

According to the Hungarian prime minister, the second and third decades of the 21st century will be determined by mass migration. Until very recently, he writes, people thought that this kind of thing only happened in the very distant past. We did not face up to the imminent danger, to the fact that unprecedented masses of people – more than the population of some European countries – are setting out for the continent.

“Parallel societies have been rearing their heads in several European countries […] Admittedly, Europe is suffering from an aging and dwindling population. But we cannot solve this problem by relying on Muslim sources of replenishment without squandering our way of life, our security, our very selves”, Mr. Orbán observes.

The Prime Minister also suggests how Europe can respond to this, and details Hungary’s proposals for managing the crisis. In his article he provides a detailed account of what measures the EU should introduce and, drawing a parallel, writes about the proposals put forward by US president Donald Trump for stopping terrorism and increasing border security.

Viktor Orbán: Hungary and the Crisis of Europe