by N. Peter Kramer
Is the ‘Hungarian question’ fuelling the EU’s East-West division? According to former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker it is. In an interview with Politico he said, ‘We have not been able to straighten out the East-West conflict, because the Hungarians act outside of any reasonable zone’. He blames in the interview his successor Ursula Von der Leyen and some EU countries not to call out explicitly Hungary when they expressed concerns about its latest emergency legislation with coronavirus measures.
‘I thought to myself that now that the new legislation has come into force in Hungary, the governments and the Commission will call a spade a spade’. Naming Hungary, Juncker continues, ‘would have had no immediate effect, but it would have made the course of the front lines clearer. When it comes to the rule of law standard, it is not wishy-washy, but plain language that counts.’
No corona bonds for the former president of the Eurogroup. These ‘are not an answer to the current crisis’, Juncker said. He is ‘against pretending there is no other answer to the crisis than corona bonds’ but he praised the compromise the finance ministers found, with using the European Investment Bank, the European Stability Mechanism, the Commission’s proposal for EU supported short-time work schemes and losing the rules for state aid and the Stability and Growth Pact.
And of course, in the interview he didn’t miss the opportunity to make a typical Juncker remark. ‘A great deal has been achieved in just a few weeks. That was a quick reaction compared with the European average’. Maybe we can appreciate his words of wisdom more now than when he was in post.