It is not uncommon for a member of a commission that sees itself as a kind of service to member states to evaluate publicly the state of democracy in those states. But Jourová has it directly in the job description. She has to do it while acting sensitively and diplomatically, which she has so far done roughly. Against Orbán’s criticism, she defined herself elegantly: “I respect the Hungarian people and their electoral decisions immensely. This does not mean, however, that we should not comment on the actions of the government and elected representatives, if necessary critically. ”Unusual criticism in response to unusual behavior: in their basic documents.
Orbán ordered the attack two days before Jour published her first-ever report on the rule of law in all member states. Like every document of the European Commission, this one went through a long comment procedure; all other commissioners, including Oliver Várhelyi of Hungary, commented. Of course, Orbán knew well what was written about his country. He also knew that this was not a one-sided and targeted critique that he could wave, but that Hungarian “sins” excelled in comparison of all 27 member states according to the same aspects and criteria. He is the master in pointing out others when someone blames him for his own mistake, and it was Hungary and Poland that often asked everyone to take the same meter.
That is what has happened now, and Budapest is not doing well on this comparison. According to internal sources in the commission, it was the Hungarian comments that were the reason why it was not known until the last minute whether the document would be published this week; this happened at von der Leyen’s direction, because the postponement could be interpreted as a concession to Hungary.
It’s a tricky situation. The European Union does not like to weaken itself by internal contradictions. A culture of consensus and compromise dictates always seeking peace, even if some gnash their teeth. After the shock caused by Brexit, this urge is even stronger. But what if this or that country embarks on a path that others think is not democratic? The only political weapon is Article Seven of the Lisbon Treaty, but its unanimity requires unanimity. The governments of Budapest and Warsaw have long promised to hold on to each other if punishable. The proceedings against them, initiated by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament, are therefore toothless and fruitless. The Journey report in this light represents a significant concrete act on which it will be possible to build further.