CSV MEP Christophe Hansen speaks during a plenary session about the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary in January. He has called for the expulsion on Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party from the EPP grouping.
Photo: European Union 2019 EP/Jan van de Vel
As a CSV MEP says the party would consider quitting the EPP alliance, the European Commission has called Hungary’s campaign against Jean-Claude Juncker a “ludicrous conspiracy theory”.
The row continues over a Hungarian government campaign that claims the European Commission’s immigration policy will “introduce a compulsory settlement quota, weaken the member states’ border protection rights and facilitate immigration with migrant visas.” A poster showing the faces of Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros included a slogan saying Hungarians had a right to know about the plans that “fundamentally endanger Hungary’s security and encourage immigration.”
Juncker had already reacted to the campaign at a speech in Stuttgart on Tuesday, saying that “against lies, there’s not much you can do”. In Luxembourg, CSV MEP Christophe Hansen responded by renewing his party’s call for Orbán’s Fidesz party to be expelled from the centre-right EPP grouping in the European Parliament. The EPP is the largest single group in the parliament and it was as its “spitzenkandidat” that Juncker was nominated as commission president following the European Parliament elections in 2014. Hansen said on Wednesday that CSV sister parties in Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands were also protesting against Fidesz. Hansen even went so far as to say that the CSV was not “one hundred percent opposed to leave the EPP at some stage” if Fidesz remained a member. He told 100,7 radio that currently the CSV could not identify with the EPP.
"Nothing to do with reality"
Meanwhile, commission vice president Frans Timmermans, who has previously raised concerns about Hungary’s current policy, also waded into the argument. On Tuesday he said the Hungarian allegations had absolutely nothing to do with the truth. “On the same day the council [of member states] discussed the collective fight on disinformation, we also saw, on an official government website, a picture of the commission president with a private individual, alleging all sorts of things that have nothing to do with reality,” Timmermans said. He then likened the campaign to the surrealism of the iconic British comedy outfit. “It would be Monty Python-esque if it weren’t so serious,” he said.
Crucially, though, Angela Merkel has stopped short of calling for Fidesz to be thrown out of the bloc ahead of European parliamentary elections in May. Speaking on Thursday in Berlin, Merkel said that Juncker has her full solidarity in the spat with Orbán. “We will also make that clear in discussions with Hungary,” she was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle. Merkel’s CDU and its sister party the CSU provides 34 of the EPP’s 217 MEPs.
But Joseph Daul, president of the EPP strongly condemned” the campaign and said its claims were “deceitful, misleading and not based on facts.”