Saturday

20th Jul 2019

Orban ally's bid to chair EP committee in trouble

Efforts to give a Hungarian Fidesz party member a senior post on the European Parliament's committee dealing with immigration and law were suspended on Wednesday (10 July).

Although still in the running, Fidesz member Balazs Hidvegi was hoping to secure a vice-chair seat on the civil liberties (Libe) committee following a vote on nominations.

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But a snap decision made by the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) political group, which had nominated him in the first place, demanded the vote be postponed.

Political group representatives in the committee will now meet on Thursday to hash out a possible alternative.

"It is unfortunate that the EPP, which had suspended Fidesz before elections, which they seem to have blissfully forgotten about, are putting up their [Fidesz'] candidates everywhere," Sophie In t'Veld, a Dutch liberal MEP from the Renew Europe group, told this website after the debacle.

Hidvegi cuts a controversial figure among critics and had worked as the communications chief of the ruling Fidesz party under prime minister Viktor Orban.

The Libe committee is meant to defend liberal EU values, but Hidvegi has faithfully toed the anti-EU government line espoused by Orban on issues ranging from migration to rule of law.

Among other things, he has spoken out against NGOs helping migrants and accused them of being agents of George Soros, an American-Hungarian investor and philanthropist of Jewish origin.

The Hidvegi suspension also comes amid a backlash against Hungary and Poland by the European Commission, which had launched the so-called Article 7 procedure against them both.

Article 7 requires ministers to assess whether the respective governments breached fundamental values laid down in the EU treaty.

It also follows wider internal wrangling among some political groups in the European Parliament to exclude MEPs who hail from far-right national parties.

Far right fall short

Other far-right hopefuls seeking senior posts in other European parliament committees have also fallen short.

Poland's former prime minister Beata Maria Szydlo failed to get the chair of the employment committee following a secret ballot proposed by the socialist camp.

Szydlo is the vice-chair of Poland's right wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has led a campaign to undermine the independence of its country's judiciary.

The committee is now set to decide on a new chair next week.

The far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) political group had also sought to get top posts for the agriculture committee and the legal affairs committee.

They too failed.

Instead, UK MEP Lucy Nethsingha from Renew Europe, took the legal affairs chair and German EPP Norbet Lins got agriculture.

Spanish socialist Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar is the Libe chair.

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