Hungary and the European Union: the drift towards disintegration

Hungary and the European Union:  the drift towards disintegration

Gábor Gulácsi and Ádám Kerényi

By the autocratic transformation of its political system (with the establishment of the System of National Cooperation), then by its fierce promotion of national identity, and furthermore by the unorthodox action it has taken against the Union’s federal policy of closing ranks in the face of the Russian-Ukrainian state of war, the Hungarian government, which achieved a two-thirds majority, sufficient to alter the constitution, in 2010, has turned away from the European Union. For a considerable length of time the EU’s existing mechanisms for dealing with crises were insufficient to respond effectively to the behaviour of its Hungarian member state, which not only endangered the Union’s fundamental values and the rule of law, but also posed a high risk that the use of Union funds would be affected by corruption. Finally, in 2022, following several attempts and a decade after the first report of the European Parliament on the decline of democracy in Hungary, by activating the ‘rule of law conditionality regulation’ for the protection of the Union budget and by prescribing the fulfilment of ‘horizontal enabling conditions’, the European Commission suspended Hungary’s access to a wide range of Union funds, and made such access subject to the implementation of reforms restoring the rule of law. In consideration of the theoretical questions that can be raised relating to the case study of the deteriorating Hungary-EU relationship this paper focuses on the conceptual explanation for the measures taken by the Union in response to the decline of democracy in Hungary and Hungary’s failure to maintain adequate rule of law. Moreover, in the concluding section, we will attempt to outline possible scenarios for the future development of the conflict.

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ISSN: 2036-5438
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