The future of the EU after the elections – Moving beyond the bubble in Szeged

In Szeged, at the second event of our project to include rural communities, with the participation of local experts we discussed the possible consequences of the EP elections in 2019, in particular, what developments can be expected in linking the EU funds to the rule of law and in the eradication of corruption.

 We expect strength from the new composition of the European Parliament and the EU institutions – said Miklós Ligeti, the legal director of Transparency International Hungary at the panel discussion about the expectations regarding the new EP cycle. The participants of the discussion, Péter Krekó (Political Capital), Csaba Tóth (Republikon Institute), Judit Tóth (University of Szeged) and András Varga (National Public Service University) were also ultimately optimistic about the new composition of the European Parliament as the centralist forces had maintained their majority, while the expected mobilisation of the populist forces did not occur.

However, the opinions were divided on to what extent the introduction of rule of law conditionality and the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office could be capable tools to curb corruption in each member state. As Miklós Ligeti said: as long as there is money that can be stolen, they will steal it.

During the course of the discussion, the possibility of freezing the EU funds and its possible consequences arose as well. According to Péter Krekó, this would not be a suitable solution, as it would primarily affect the most vulnerable groups of society, while the NER oligarchs would continue to build personal wealth from their established businesses. Additionally, András Varga pointed out the fact that the Hungarian government would probably react to such a situation with a tough negative campaign that could have serious consequences.

The participants of the discussion have considered the importance of coalitions within the EP differently: while there was a consensus that these alliances are occasional and limited to certain symbolic events, such as the election of the President of the European Commission, Csaba Tóth noted: Fidesz made serious efforts after the elections to remain in the European People’s Party. The adjournment of the establishment of administrative courts can be interpreted as an element of this pursuit – the panelists agreed.

The discussion was attended by an enthusiastic audience of mostly young people, who asked several questions from the speakers. Transparency International Hungary confirmed its intention to further develop these newly established relationships through personal meetings.

Several local media outlets, including szeged.hu and Szeged Television covered the event.

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