Behind Viktor Orban’s Defiance of a Brussels ‘Rule of Law’
By F. William Engdahl
2 December 2020
Image: Viktor Orbán 2014 cropped Credit: European People's Party License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. License Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Viktor_Orb%C3%A1n_2014_cropped.jpg
Within the European Union in recent weeks the governments of Hungary and Poland have come under massive pressure from the EU Commission in Brussels for their threat to veto the extraordinary €1.8 trillion EU Budget on grounds that it contains provisions regarding mandatory immigrant or refugee quotas each country must accept. Both Hungary and Poland are accused of violating something that is being called the “Rule of Law.” However when we look more closely at various EU laws, it becomes clear that the phrase is used as yet another neuro-linguistic manipulation, much as the earlier “Responsibility to Protect” that was used by the Obama Administration to bomb Libya to the stone age.
On November 26 in Budapest Polish Prime Minister Mateus Morawiecki and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in a joint press conference on the Hungarian-Polish veto on the Multiannual Financial Framework of the European Union and the Next Generation recovery fund, announced they had signed a common position to veto the EU Budget unless a section is deleted mandating that member states must adhere to something Brussels calls “Rule of Law.” Referring to the July EU Summit where Germany began its six month rotation as President of the Council of the European Union, Orban noted that despite multiple efforts to separate the Rule of Law section of the financial package from the financial parts, Germany, under the heavy hand of Chancellor Merkel, refused to budge. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on November 21 it was “equally important for the future of the European Union to have a budget and the rule of law.” (emphasis added)
“The proposal remains on the table, which would tie crisis funds to rule of law criteria, and this is not legal, but political in nature; and this proposal, from Hungary’s position, is not acceptable,” Prime Minister Orbán said. He stressed that the veto was a legitimate legal tool provided by the EU Treaties: “In a case where a member state feels that its essential interests are being harmed in a particular question, it allows for the use of the veto,” he said.
Only by threatening to veto the budget, which is allowed, can he pressure the EU to strike the Rule of Law section. Most mainstream EU media overlooks the fact that certain vital decisions of the EU countries are not decided by the complex procedure of “qualified majority,” but are subject to veto by even a single member if it is deemed to harm the vital sovereign interests of a state. In this case, Orban and the Polish government have rejected the idea that mandatory immigration or refugee quotas be decided by Brussels for all member states of the EU under the cover of a vague Brussels-defined Rule of Law.
Rule of Law backsliding?
The use of the term Rule of Law by the EU Commission in Brussels is a dangerous manipulation of any remaining vestige of national sovereignty of the 27 member countries of the EU. It is a clever attempt to rob what national sovereignty remains by implying that the non-elected EU Commission has the power to decide every aspect of national life of member states, a major reason that British citizens voted for Brexit.
The use of the term Rule of Law is being promoted by law professors from the Central European University, a university funded and founded by financier George Soros and his Open Society Foundations. In April, 2016, well before the coronavirus budget crisis, two law professors connected with Soros’ Central European University, wrote a paper titled, “An EU mechanism on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights.” There the authors, Dimitry Kochenov, and Petra Bard, of Soros’ Central European University, wrote that Poland and Hungary were guilty of the bizarre charge of “Rule of Law backsliding,” an Orwellian formulation to say the least. This was in reference to their resisting demands from the EU Commission that they take a mandated number of new refugees after the literal invasion of more than one million refugees from Syria, Libya and even Afghanistan in 2015. At the time, George Soros was openly lobbying that the EU countries accept a minimum of one million refugees yearly. The Orban government even submitted the issue to a popular referendum which he overwhelmingly won, hardly a sign of an authoritarian regime. Germany prohibits any popular referendums .
Soros attacks Hungarian sovereignty
In April 2020 Philippe Dam of the Human Rights Watch, one of countless NGOs financed by Soros, wrote a scathing attack on the Orban government for what Dam called Orban’s “authoritarian takeover.” He referred to the Hungarian parliament passing a series of emergency laws to deal with the extraordinary coronavirus situation. Dam lyingly claimed that Orban had passed laws making him leader for life and other heinous provisions. Unlike Germany, where the Merkel coalition did not bother to consult a parliamentary approval, Orban sought and got the majority of the parliament. The measures were removed in June with assent also of Parliament, as the coronavirus tests showed no more emergency levels.
On November 18, in response to the Hungarian and Polish veto of the financial package of €1.8 trillion, Gorge Soros himself wrote a scathing tirade against his bitter foe, Orban, and the Polish government: “The EU can’t afford to compromise on the rule-of-law provisions. How it responds to the challenge posed by Orbán and Kaczyński will determine whether it survives as an open society true to the values upon which it was founded.” Soros added, “The question is whether the EU, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel perhaps leading the way, can muster the political will.”
Soros, whose Open Society-financed NGOs, as well as his Budapest Central European University, have repeatedly attacked Viktor Orban for Orban’s outspoken criticism of Soros’ interference in domestic Hungarian affairs, accuses the Hungarian Prime Minister of “personal and political corruption,” but with no proof presented. Soros slyly plays the Jewish victim, noting, “Being of Hungarian Jewish origin, I am particularly concerned with the situation in Hungary…” Soros neglects to say that during the war, by his own admission, he got false papers posing as a gentile and worked with the pro-German regime to help identify property of Jewish families being exported to concentration camps. He admitted as much on TV. The US program, 60 Minutes, reported in 2006, “While hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being shipped off to the death camps, George Soros accompanied his phony godfather on his appointed rounds, confiscating property from the Jews.”
Orban replied to the Soros diatribe: “The Soros network, which has woven itself through Europe’s bureaucracy and its political elite, has for years been working to make Europe an immigrant continent. Today the Soros network, which promotes a global open society and seeks to abolish national frameworks, is the greatest threat faced by the states of the European Union. The goals of the network are obvious: to create multi-ethnic, multicultural open societies by accelerating migration, and to dismantle national decision-making, placing it in the hands of the global elite.”
The Hungarian Prime Minister elaborated the Soros agenda: “Many high-ranking EU bureaucrats are working with the Soros network to create a unified empire. They want to build an institutional system that, under the aegis of the open society, seeks to force a unified way of thinking, a unified culture and a unified social model on Europe’s free and independent nations. They seek to rescind the right of every people to decide its own destiny. This is also the purpose of their “rule of law” proposal – which does not, in fact, recognize the rule of law, but of strength. It would be more honest to call it the “rule of the majority.”
What is Rule of Law?
Increasingly, bureaucrats of the EU Commission are using the neuro-linguistic term “Rule of Law” to impose a top-down totalitarian rule over member states. That, regardless whether the state in question, such as Hungary or Poland, has democratically elected their government and the governments abide by their own national rule of law.
In May 2018 in a European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, Commission President Juncker announced that in the 2021-2027 EU budget, the European Commission proposed to tie access to payments to a set of Rule of Law criteria. In a heated July 2020 debate on the 2021-27 EU Commission budget of €1.8 trillion, members deliberately did not include the Rule of Law provision due to objections from Hungary and other countries. Despite this, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the German EU Presidency will make sure to conclude the Article 7 Rule of Law procedure against Hungary. She did.
Brussels’ EU is not a nation-state comparable, say, to the United States, which has a ratified national constitution and which defines in that document the principles on which US rule of law rests. There is no true “United States of Europe.” There is no democratic election of EU Commissioners. Decisions in the EU are typically made by a French-German strong-man coalition forced on smaller states. Orban is rare in that he rightly refuses to accept such top-down control.
The term Rule of Law is one of those slippery terms that can be used to hide a multitude of crimes. There is nothing we can call “Law” like the US Bill of Rights that have been accepted by all member states. Which law has Orban violated in exercising the allowed veto? Hungary and Poland have offered to approve the budget if the EU separates the political demand for Rule of Law from the package, something Merkel refuses.
Brussels usually ties the term Rule of Law together with something they call “fundamental values” of the EU. Any nation that rejects its definition of the Rule of Law is automatically branded as an anti-democratic pariah state that does not share the EU’s values. Part of the EU’s strategy is to extend the list of ‘EU crimes’ under Article 83 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to cover hate crime and hate speech, including when targeted at LGBTIQ people. Who defines fundamental values? Is there a duly-voted Bill of Rights for the European Union? The EU does not even have a common central bank, as many states refuse the confines of the ECB. Europe is not at this point a nation, and Rule of Law as used by Brussels or the Soros networks merely means a thinly disguised top-down totalitarian control over sovereign states. The democratic deficit lies in Brussels not in EU states.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”