Hungary faces demotion in next European Commission over Russia ties

Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary
Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary

EU leaders are planning to give Hungary a lower position in the next European Commission (EC) due to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's close ties with Russia and his stance on Ukraine, Politico reported, citing three diplomats on May 30.

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Hungary wants to keep the enlargement portfolio, which has significant influence because of the EU's negotiations on Ukraine's accession. However, EU members do not want the current Budapest Commissioner, Oliver Varhelyi, or any other Hungarian, to remain in such an important role.

Orbán is reportedly Putin's closest ally in the EU, and European leaders are increasingly frustrated by his delays in sanctions and opposition to providing funds to Ukraine.

One diplomat said it was hardly "even a question" of Hungary being allowed to retain control of any powerful brief.

The EC stated that governments and the next elected president should choose its commissioners, and it will not “pre-empt their decisions.”

Varhelyi has been accused of undermining policy toward EU candidate countries, creating confusion in the recent standoff with Georgia over its widely condemned "foreign agents" law.

Budapest has previously tried to introduce its own version of Russian-style rules, facing opposition from Brussels and European legal institutions.

"After the disaster that happened this time with Varhelyi and the way Orban treats EC President Ursula von der Leyen, there is no chance that she will pass anything important to someone close to him," said one of the diplomats, speaking anonymously.

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Another diplomat expressed concern about Varhelyi's role in accession talks, given that Hungary openly opposes Ukraine's EU membership.

"This is what we get when we put a fox in charge of the henhouse," he said.

Previously, it was reported that Hungary was blocking approval of the draft negotiation framework on Ukraine's accession to the EU at a meeting of EU ambassadors due to the issue of minority rights.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine