EU parliament to question Hungary's ability to hold EU presidency

  • World
  • Tuesday, 30 May 2023

FILE PHOTO: Members of the European Parliament vote on lifting immunity for Italian lawmaker Andrea Cozzolino and Belgian lawmaker Marc Tarabella, both of the centre-left Socialists and Democrats, who Belgian investigators want to question over a cash-for-influence corruption scandal, in Brussels, Belgium February 2, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament will on Thursday question Hungary's ability to hold the rotating presidency of the 27-nation European Union next year, citing the country's problems with the rule of law, a draft parliamentary resolution showed.

A country holding the EU presidency plans and chairs meetings of EU government ministers and preparatory bodies, and represents EU governments in relations with other EU institutions and international organisations.

The presidency is responsible for driving work on EU legislation, acting as an honest and neutral broker -- a condition Hungary will be unable to meet because of its numerous conflicts with the EU, the parliament will argue.

"The Parliament questions how Hungary is able to fulfil this task credibly in 2024 in view of incompliance with EU law and the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union as well as the principle of sincere cooperation," the draft resolution, to be adopted on June 1, said.

According to a calendar agreed by all EU governments in 2016, Hungary is to hold the presidency of the bloc between July and December 2024. While the calendar has been changed before because of new countries joining, a change based on a country's problems with the rule of law would be unprecedented.

Hungary has long been at odds with the EU over multiple issues, such as the rule of law, corruption at high levels, a lack of judicial independence, the violation of academic freedoms and LGBTQ rights. The EU has frozen billions of euros in funds for Budapest due to its concerns.

The Hungarian government has been in talks with the EU for years over the issues, but negotiations have made little progress.

A decision whether to change the calendar of EU presidencies to postpone or cancel Hungary's presidency is in the hands of other EU governments.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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