Nine weeks away from the European Parliament elections, Brexit and the suspension of Fidesz from the European People’ Party has been worthwhile developments to pay attention to in the context of the EP elections campaigns.
The evening of the 20th of March and the following day have been critical moments for both the British and the Hungarian politics, but more so for the EU.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May waited until the very last minute of the 20th of March to send her letter of Brexit extension request to Donald Tusk, the European Council President.
Once the letter was sent, she made an appearance outside the Number 10. Luckily she had her voice back, viewers did not have to check their TV frequencies or radio signals to make sure what they were hearing was what May was saying.
While May heavily criticised the UK Members of the Parliament for the delay in the Brexit date, disregarding how the democratic process works in the House of Commons, she did not look like a leader in control, but she was more like a toddler having a tantrum because things did not go the way she envisaged.
May’s speech is very damaging for her authority in her own party, as well as in the British political establishment. Reverberations of the position May have adopted on that very night will be something to watch out in the coming days, but some MPs have already reported on the Twitter how the Brexit supporters have harassed them and blamed them for the delay.
In the light of these developments and their possible ramifications, the future of the Brexit is ever more ambiguous.
There is still a possibility that the UK participates in the EP elections, depending on how the Meaningful Vote (III) results next week, considering May’s treatment of the MPs and lack of change in her deal, it is very likely to be voted against.
Under these circumstances, then the UK will need to leave the EU on the 12th of April with no deal or have decided to a new plan by then. However by this date the UK will need to tell the EU what it plans to do next. Tusk said that the UK could ask another extension, if the UK agreed to stand in the EP elections in May.
Talking of the EP elections, suspension of Fidesz, the Hungarian Civic Alliance Party, from the European People’s Party has also been remarkable. Not least because we all thought the question was more about whether the EPP will decide to expel Fidesz.
I do not know what happened during that meeting and what conversations the EPP members had between them, but there is a huge difference between expulsion and suspension.
Fidesz will not have a say on the business of the EPP, will not be allowed to nominate candidates for jobs in the grouping or attend party meetings—however it will be loosely connected to the EPP.
This means that the Fidesz will continue to run its election campaign as a suspended member of the EPP, having denied all their wrongdoings and blamed the media for producing fake news about their election material.
In a way Fidesz survived for another day and the EPP has given the impression to the outside world that the EPP does take actions against those who do breach it’s values—effectiveness of these actions is not for discussion, at least for now.
Drawing on the debate about the extension of the Brexit date and the suspension of Fidesz, I like to make two points about the current state of the EU and why these were critical moments for the EU.
The fact that the EU 27 stands united concerning the Brexit and can act together in the common interest of the EU shows that regardless of the speculations about how divided the EU is, there are more unifying the EU then dividing it.
The second point is that the way the EPP is dealing Fidesz is exactly how the EU is handling the Member States which are in breach of the the Article 2 of the TEU. By which response I think not just the values of the EPP and of the EU, but the future of the EU have been put at a greater risk.