Thursday, January 06, 2011

Van Rompuy's chief visier pours scorn on Hungary

Richard Corbett, the former dire, bean-counting Labour MEP has slated the Hungarian Presidency in the current edition of European Voice (£),
I was curious to read your special report on the “Hungarian Presidency of the EU” (16 December 2010-5 January 2011). There is, of course, no such thing!
Hungary merely chairs one of the EU institutions, not the EU as a whole. You (and others) may wish to elevate the Council (and its president) above all the others, but I dare say that the presidents of the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament may have other views.
The rotating presidency of the Council was always an over-rated function. It is short-term, without executive powers, and inherits a pre-set agenda. Since the Lisbon treaty, its prime minister no longer chairs the European Council, its foreign minister no longer speaks for the EU on the world stage, nor even chairs the foreign-affairs configuration of the Council.
Special supplements about new member states are welcome, but do not imply that they are suddenly in charge!
Van Rompuy's website lists Corbett's responsibilities as,
Institutional Issues
Relations with the European Parliament and the National Parliaments
Relations with the Committee of Regions and the Economic and Social Committee
Which carries the suggestion that he should now a little bit about diplomacy. Obviously not. I initially wondered if he was a tad tired and emotional when he wrote the above.

I mean is this an official statement from Van Rompuy's office to the Hungarian Presidency? And if so I was the speaker of the Hungarian Országház I would be demanding his head on a plate.

However that being said, and despite the mean spirited way in which he says it I cannot believe he was really drunk, and I do believe that he is representing his master's voice. He can hardly suggest that he isn't acting in an official capacity after all. And what he says isn't in itself inaccurate, just nasty. And if anybody knows the dark corners of institutional wrangling it is Corbett.

Van Rompuy, as a Belgian, has a hatred of functional nation states. The Council of Ministers of which Hungary now holds the Presidency is a thorn in the side of the federalists who he represents and his contempt for national interest and the approach that encapsulates the actions of democratic nation states brings him out in hives.


Eurogoblin said...

I'm disappointed, Gawain! I thought this was going to be your thoughts on the kerfaffle currently developing around the Hungarian Media Law (plus "Crisis Tax" law, et al)

Eurocentric said...

Pretty much everything he's said is legally true, though the assessment of the rotating presidency as "never that important"... Well, it's true that it was never as important as "Presidency of the EU" implies, but it has been very important in shaping the EU and policy.

I suspect that this was said out of exasperation at the media frenzy (comparatively) over the Hungarian Presidency compared to Van Rompuy's media standing. Corbett is federalist, but when it comes down to getting things done, Van Rompuy hasn't done anything or espoused anything further than what the Member States already would accept. While VR has turned out to be more influential versus the Commission than was thought, he's hardly turned out to be a dynamic driver of federalism.

WeLoveYouCorbett WeDo said...

Of course he's right. That's what we love about Corbett: quite an in-your-face type of guy.

Gawain Towler said...

Hah, Jo I am a little confused over the media law to be frank. Orban is one of the most popular politicians in Europe. He has the undoubted support of the people of Hungary, so I am loath to support the media circus against him.

There again I wouldn't want to be a Hungarian.

But is it the business of foriegners to tell him what he can, and cannot do...

And we cannot pretend that all other EU member states have exlemplary media freedom laws...

Oh bother.

EC, I admit that he is right, but I find this letter an extraordinary act of lesse majestie. Essentially it is very rude, and obviously comes with the approval of Van Ropers. Thus Van R's relations with the Hungarian's over the next 6 months, which I would have thought to be wquite important have got off to an appalling start. It is as if Corbett is standing there at the beggining of the Presidency gayly pouring sugar in their tank, with Van R, sniggering behind a hedge.