Hungary is increasingly marginalized: what does this mean for the EU?

  • Hungary imposed sanctions on Russia and caused controversy in the EU – not for the first time.
  • Budapest has long been at odds with the EU over the rule of law and foreign policy.
  • In terms of its position in the Ukraine war, Hungary is increasingly isolated in Europe.
  • Where does this go? Two experts provide answers.

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If in the German press about Hungary The latter is often reported in connection with the lack of rule of law or siege attitude European union. This also happened very recently: in the controversy over the sixth set of actions against Russia, Victor Orban put his feet on the brakes and gave his approval on the concessions for Budapest.

“Hungary is now isolated within the EU, especially with regard to the war in Ukraine, at its many levels,” notes historian Ulf Brunbauer. Orban sees himself as someone who puts national interests above all else – “including solidarity with other EU countries or the United Nations. UkraineSaid the expert.

Hungary is increasingly offside

Urban’s political program is structured Brussels To establish himself as the champion of Hungarian interests. “Among the current heads of government in the EU, he is very sympathetic to Putin and has not yet come out with a clear condemnation of war crimes,” Brunnbauer said.

But that is not the only reason why Hungary is increasingly marginalized. After all, many member states have conflicts with the EU over foreign policy issues such as the rule of law and the study. Russia And China Some EU member states are at odds with each other.

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read more: Hungary blocks EU sanctions on church leaders – night at a glance

Position in the war against Russia

“Structural conditions have changed recently,” says Guy-Olaf Long, a senior member of the Foundation for Science and Politics (SWP). “PolandIt could be Hungary’s most important ally when it comes to the rule of law, and is in the process of reaching an agreement with the European Commission on the release of billions of dollars from previously blocked reconstruction funds, ”Long explains.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine has led to conservative governments in Warsaw Budapest “Warsaw is taking a tough stance against Russia, while Hungary is acting cautiously.

Do not leave them alone

In addition, there is a change of government in Slovenia: “with Janez Jansa, one of the closest allies of Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, now out of office,” says Long.

Nevertheless, the EU is trying not to isolate Budapest too much. “Evidence of this is the compromise on the oil embargo,” he said. During the negotiations, Hungary agreed that the embargo on oil imports would initially apply only to sea routes, not pipelines.

Relations with Poland have cooled

“Unlike countries like Poland or Lithuania, which, for political reasons, are willing to pay a high price for being quick to become independent from Russia, Hungary is pragmatic and looks primarily at repair costs,” Long said.

The EU has not completely ignored these interests. “Deviation from sanctions is already weakening the EU in the short term,” Brunnbauer explains. Since consensus policy restrictions apply to packages, any country can veto the entire decision.

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Obstacles become more difficult

“And it is clear that sanctions are becoming increasingly difficult,” Brunbauer said. He does not see the current oil embargo as a real obstacle. “As far as Putin is concerned, it is clear that the unity of the West is becoming more and more weak. Russia will target these breaches,” he warned.

Expert Long also sees the danger: “If sanctions against Russia require lengthy negotiations, it could curb the signal effect of the proposed measures.”

Signal Putin

But one could say otherwise: “If an agreement is reached anyway, it will be relaxing for third countries,” Long says. If Hungary agrees to sanctions against Russia, it means that even in the past and sometimes after fierce fighting, not a single country expected from the outside will have eroded EU unity.

Should the EU still put Hungary in its place? If so, how? “The EU needs to make it clear that Hungary can expect repercussions,” Brunnbauer said. No further funding should be provided from the Corona Reconstruction Fund. “You meet Orban when the money supply is cut off. His organization is largely based on the billions that enter his networks from Brussels,” Brunbauer says.

Start with the cash pipe

Long explains: “The situation is not easy. The community wants to implement the validity of policies that it values ​​as fundamental. It also wants to show that it has the tools to enforce its claims, for example by providing funding by blocking.”

On the other hand, the Hungarian government views itself as the target of politically motivated campaigns, a partial encroachment by EU officials, and a large-scale defense of the country’s sovereignty. “With his fourth election victory in April, Orban feels he has a strong domestic political mandate,” Long says.

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read more: Under pressure from Hungary: EU removes “prince of Putin’s church” grill from sanctions list

Clear approach and dialogue

In his view, the EU’s attitude towards Russia should have several elements: “If Hungary does not benefit from billions from Brussels during the economically difficult period for the whole of Europe, EU-critical rhetoric will intensify in Budapest, and regions will make politics harder.” The result could be a further veto threat.

In addition, Hungary wants to use its relations with external powers and actors to balance the EU, such as China, Turkey or Serbia. “Therefore, the partners of the European Union and Hungary must remain consistent, but at the same time continue to seek dialogue,” he advises.

About Experts:

Dr. Kai-Olaf Lang heads the “Europe / EU” research team at the “Foundation for Science and Politics” (SWP). His research areas include the Baltic states, Central and Eastern Europe, the EU’s expansionist policy and the Eastern Alliance.

Professor Dr. Ulf Brunbauer is the scientific director of the Leibniz Institute for Eastern and Southeastern European Research in Regensburg. His major research areas include the history of state socialism, migration, and nation-building in southeastern Europe.


Hungary has barred the EU from putting the Russian Orthodox Patriot Grill on the embargo list. The cleric is a staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Thumbnails: AFP)

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