Hungary Set to Lead EU Council amid Conservative Surge in Europe

While Americans focus on November’s general election, Hungary is preparing to lead Europe in a more conservative direction. Starting July 1, Hungary will become president of the Council of the European Union, one of the EU’s two legislative bodies (alongside the European Parliament) which serves as a check on the executive European Commission. Leadership of the council rotates every six months amongst the EU’s 27 member states and Hungary is planning to use its position to make Europe great again.

Hungary laid out a seven-point agenda this week, consisting of initiatives to drive European success and broker “sincere cooperation between member states and institutions, for the peace, security and prosperity of a truly strong Europe.” The first policy initiative is aimed at increasing European economic competitiveness. “Our aim is to contribute to the development of a technology-neutral industrial strategy, a framework for boosting European productivity, an open economy and international economic cooperation, as well as a flexible labour market that creates secure jobs and offers rising wages in Europe, which is a crucial factor to growth and competitiveness,” the agenda states. The initiative will also include a “focus on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises,” as opposed to monopolistic global corporations.

Another key policy point will be combatting illegal immigration. “The migratory pressure that Europe has been facing for several years is not only a challenge to the Union as a whole but also places a huge burden on individual member states,” the agenda emphasizes. Hungary — one of the few EU member states to tackle illegal immigration head-on — continues to declare that “illegal immigration and human smuggling must be curbed.” To achieve these goals, Hungary plans to lead the EU in communicating more closely with nations where illegal immigrants originate and facilitating the detaining and returning of those caught crossing borders illegally.

Hungary also seeks to bolster agriculture in Europe, at a time when national governments and EU institutions are targeting farmers for the sake of “green” climate change-focused agendas. Noting that “the livelihood of European farmers is threatened” today, Hungary’s agenda states, “It is essential to view agriculture not as a cause of climate change, but as part of the solution…” The agenda continues, “While guaranteeing food security, European farmers provide all EU citizens with basic public goods. Therefore, a long-term guarantee of food sovereignty and food security should be part of the strategic autonomy of the EU.” To achieve this, Hungary plans to help the European Commission draft new terms for the EU’s agricultural policy, in order to create a “competitive, crisis-proof and farmer-friendly agriculture.”

The new president of the council also seeks to address demographic challenges the EU is currently facing, including a rapidly aging society, rural depopulation, and the fallout from abortion and contraception. “The Hungarian Presidency, fully respecting the competences of Member States, wishes to draw attention to these challenges,” the agenda reads. While the Council is expected to address issues of “equal opportunities and gender equality,” pro-family Hungary explains, “In the area of gender equality, the Hungarian Presidency will seek to promote the reconciliation of work and family life, taking into account intergenerational cooperation and solidarity, in light of a shrinking population, an ageing society, and other demographic challenges affecting families.”

Hungary’s leadership of the council notably follows the rise in conservative voting trends in Europe. The EU hosted elections for its European Parliament earlier this month, with hardline conservative parties — previously considered “fringe” groups — making significant inroads and displacing far-left parliamentarians and parties. The establishment center-right European People’s Party maintained its majority, while the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) lost 12 seats, the centrist Renew Europe lost a staggering 23 seats, and “green” and far-left groups lost a combined total of at least 34 seats. Meanwhile, the conservative European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) picked up 21 seats and other hardline conservatives gained as many as 50 seats. Election results are still being tallied but, as of Friday, 21 out of 27 EU member states have officially counted ballots and reported results.

The exponential increase in illegal immigration over the past decade has spurred much of the rightward shift in Europe, with anti-immigration groups like the National Rally in France, Alternative for Germany, and the Irish Freedom Party making significant gains against establishment and well-funded left-wing parties.

“The weakness of the Left has been happening for decades in Europe now. The Left’s share of seats in the European Parliament has fallen in every European election since 1989 to its lowest ever now,” explained Irish Freedom Party Founder and President Hermann Kelly in comments to The Washington Stand. “It is clear that people across Europe are rebelling against the political establishment. They are angry about mass immigration, the cost of living and extreme net-zero green policies. They view the Brussels establishment as out of touch and arrogant and are also deeply concerned about the increasing militarization of the EU.”


S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: What Do The European Elections Results Tell Us?

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