Will EU punish Orbán for his fake "mediation" with the Kremlin over the war in Ukraine?

Wednesday, 10 July 2024 —

The EU is once again considering penalising Hungary and its Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who is allegedly abusing his position as the head of the EU Council. This primarily involves his international activities, notably the fake "mediation" regarding the cessation of the war in Ukraine, where he leverages his European presidency status without the consent of other EU members.

There is serious discussion within the EU about prematurely ending Hungary's presidency. The EU has never previously terminated a presiding country's term, but it is likely. Now it is about a political will.

Read more in the article by Sergiy Sydorenko, a European Pravda editor – Unpunished Orbán: How Hungary "heading" the EU breaks rules in negotiations about Ukraine.

European Pravda detailed Viktor Orbán's visit to Kyiv, which was unusually appropriate for him.


EU officials indicated that Orbán, upon receiving additional EU powers, would become more constructive. In Kyiv, Brussels and European capitals, Orbán's statements about using his EU Council powers for Ukraine's benefit were heard.

However, things quickly deteriorated. Days after visiting Kyiv, Orbán went to Moscow, breaking the informal veto on EU leaders' visits to the Kremlin, raising many questions but few surprises. After Moscow, Orbán visited China, presenting these trips as his peace efforts, claiming he is mediating between Ukraine and Russia.

This week, Orbán is in the US for a NATO summit, likely trying to meet Donald Trump to "sell" his mediation services.

However, he faces backlash and condemnation from EU colleagues.

It is crucial to note that holding the EU Council presidency does not make Hungary the "EU boss." On the contrary, Hungary is even more constrained. Its statements must be coordinated with other states. In certain areas, including foreign policy, Orbán has no right to act without the unanimous agreement of EU members and the authorisation of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.

Orbán has violated this rule and developed a whole theory justifying his actions. Brussels is preparing for a tough discussion with Hungary on this matter.

Moreover, the EU has a new way to punish Hungary without requiring unanimity.

There are no legal obstacles to stripping Hungary of its EU Council presidency at the next summit.

Sources in Brussels emphasise such a chance, which will likely be a "soft threat" to Orbán at the EU member states' ambassadors meeting on Wednesday and later at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 22 July.

However, will Europeans have the political will to take this step? The answer looks negative as of today.

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