Finnish EU presidency vows to increase pressure on Hungary

Finland, whose government will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1, will initiate a hearing regarding the abuse of the rule of law in Hungary, diplomatic sources told Euronews on June 11.

According to its recently published manifesto, strengthening the rule of law will be one of the six “strategic themes” of the Finnish EU presidency.

“The country will promote the realisation of the EU’s fundamental values by demanding that the payment of subsidies to member states, such as structural funds, be tied to compliance with fundamental values,” the manifesto reads, pointing to the ongoing European debate whether the payment of funds within the Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU’s seven-year-long budget, should be tied to democracy and the rule of law.

In September 2018, the European Parliament overwhelmingly supported launching so-called Article 7 [of the Treaty of the EU] procedures against the Hungarian government over the country’s democratic backsliding. Formally, the next step would have been to hold a hearing in the General Affairs Council (the EU Council of Foreign Ministers). However, neither the Austrian nor the Romanian EU presidencies put the issue on the council’s agenda.

If the EU speeds up the procedure and EU heads of state or government decide to initiate sanctions, Hungary might lose its voting rights in the European Council.