European Union Net Funding to Hungary, 2011–2016

The European Union provided Hungary with 26.54 billion euros in net funding (gross funding from the EU budget minus contributions to the EU budget) during the first six years in which the second and third Orbán governments were in power for the entire year (2011–2016).

Hungary’s average population was 9.9 million in the years 2011–2016 (source in English). Hungary thus received per-capita net funding of 2,681 euros over this six-year period.

Source: European Commission data on “operating budget balance” for the years 2007–2013 and 2014–2020.

Hungary received the highest amount of per-capita net European Union funding among all 28 EU member states in the years 2011–2016. During this six-year period, 17 member states of the European Union were net recipients of funding from the EU (see table below), while 11 member states were net financial contributors to the EU.

Sources: European Commission data on “operating budget balance” for the years 2007–2013 and 2014–2020; and Trading Economics population data.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has claimed that European Union funding to Hungary serves to counterbalance the profit that Western companies derive as the result of the opening of the country’s markets to them. Prime Minister Orbán said during an interview published in the pro-government daily newspaper Magyar Idők on December 24, 2015 (source in Hungarian):

It is worthwhile to clarify whether we are really getting their [the European Union’s] money. After forty years of communism, central Europe undertook competition with the capital-rich big Western companies. We opened our markets in such a way as to provide Western companies with an enormous advantage and they were able to gain profit-generating positions in our economies that we could never acquire in theirs. In spite of the legal possibility of competition, the difference in the scale of capital has long made this an illusion. We get the sums [of money] that we get in order to counterbalance this. Moreover, the business profit that leaves Hungary for the West reaches the magnitude of the amount of support that arrives from there.

Germany was the greatest net financial contributor to the European Union in the years 2011–2016. During this period, Germany made a per-capita net financial contribution of 945 euros to the EU (see sources A, B and C in English).

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The Referendum That Couldn’t Fail

In February 2016, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán initiated a referendum in Hungary asking voters to respond to the following question (source in Hungarian):

Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the approval of the [Hungarian] National Assembly?

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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaks to supporters following the referendum on the European Union migrant-resettlement quota (photo: index.hu).

This question refers specifically to the resettlement of 1,294 Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees from Italy and Greece to Hungary as part of a European Union plan adopted in September 2015 (see 2016 Referendum on European Union Migrant Resettlement Quotas).

The result of the referendum in terms of approval or rejection of the European Union migrant-resettlement quota for Hungary was never in doubt: opinion polls consistently showed that the number of voters who rejected the quota was many times larger than the number of voters who accepted it (see “Opinion Polls” section of the relevant Wikipedia article).

The only question was: would voter turnout exceed the 50-percent threshold required for the referendum to be considered legally valid?

See entire post.

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Propaganda Camp

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán prepares to speak at Tusnádfürdő on July 24, 2016 (photo: MTI).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán prepares to deliver annual speech in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad) on July 24, 2016 (photo: MTI).

On July 24, 2016, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held his annual speech at the Tusványos Summer University and Student Camp (Tusványos Nyári Szabadegyetem és Diáktábor) in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad), Romania.

Orbán, both as head of government and opposition leader, has long used the speech he makes at this camp in the predominantly Hungarian-inhabited Székely Land (Székelyföld) region of Romania to explicitly articulate his domestic political vision and his viewpoints on international affairs (see Proclamation of the Illiberal Hungarian State).

Prime Minister Orbán expressed two novel opinions in his 2016 Tusványos Summer University and Student Camp speech: first, he became the first leader of a sovereign state to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States; and second, in answering a question following the speech, he advocated the creation of a common European military.

Below are Orange Files translations of several passages from Prime Minister Orbán’s July 24 speech in Tusnádfürdő (source in Hungarian).

I am not Donald Trump’s campaign manager, I never would have thought that the notion would occur to me that among the full-fledged possibilities he would be the best for Europe and Hungary. . . . See entire post.

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Prime Minister Orbán’s March 15 Speech

Prime Minister Orbán waves to audience following his speech on March 15, 2016 (photo: MTI).

Prime Minister Orbán waves to audience following his speech on March 15, 2016 (photo: MTI).

On March 15, 2016, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered his annual speech outside the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest commemorating the anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution against Habsburg rule. Below is an Orange Files translation of the speech (source in Hungarian).

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Esteemed celebrators!

Europe is not free, because freedom starts with the statement of truth. Today in Europe it is forbidden to state the truth. Even if made of silk, a muzzle remains a muzzle. It is forbidden to state that those who are currently arriving are not refugees, but that a mass migration threatens Europe. It is forbidden to state that immigration brings crime and terror into our countries. It is forbidden to state that those who arrive from other civilizations represent a danger to our way of life, our culture, our customs and our Christian traditions. It is forbidden to state that instead of assimilating, those who arrived earlier have built a separate-entry world for themselves with their own laws and their own ideals that pry the millennial European frameworks apart. It is forbidden to state that this is not an incidental and unintentional chain of consequences, but a planned-out and guided action, a mass of people directed upon us. It is forbidden to state that in Brussels they are currently scheming to transport foreigners here as quickly as possible and to settle them among us. It is forbidden to say that the objective of this settlement is to redraw the religious and cultural patterns of Europe, to rebuild its ethnic footings, thereby eliminating the nation-states that represent the last impediment to the Internationale. It is forbidden to state that Brussels is today stealthily swallowing more and more slices of our national sovereignty, that in Brussels many are today working on the plan for a European United States for which nobody ever granted them the authority.

See entire speech.

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Holiday Tidings from Viktor and Co.

In the days prior to Christmas, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, National Assembly Speaker László Kövér and Prime Ministry chief János Lázár—the most powerful officials in the Orbán administration along with Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office chief Antal Rogán—conducted long interviews with the pro-government newspaper Magyar Idők, the pro-government website PestiSrácok.hu and the opposition newspaper Népszava, respectively. Below are Orange Files-translated quotes and excerpts from these interviews published between December 22 and December 24, 2015.

Prime Minister Orbán in Magyar Idők (source in Hungarian).

Regarding the Political Affiliation of Migrants

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (source: Magyar Idők).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (source: Magyar Idők).

“According to available surveys, the large majority of immigrants will be left-wing voters. This factor upsets the entire system of European party-politics that developed from Christian foundations. In ten years, the people who have been let in now will be citizens along with their family members. We must clearly understand that the person who has come from Islam will not vote for a Christian-based party—we wouldn’t do this either in the opposite case—but will gravitate toward the left wing, because there it will at least not be necessary to come to terms with the Christian foundations. After a certain amount of time, if there are enough of them [migrants], they will organize their own political interest representation, which for the same reason will work together with the left wing. The traditional political balance of our continent, which is founded upon intellectual and political competition between the left wing and the right wing, will be overturned.”

See entire post.

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Hell-lo Dictator!

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is greeted by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker on the second day of the fourth European Union (EU) eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, on May 22, 2015 as Latvia holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council. EU leaders and their counterparts from Ukraine and five ex-Soviet states hold a summit focused on bolstering their ties, an initiative that has been undermined by Russia's intervention in Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI

Prime Minister Orbán returns greeting from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, Latvia          (photo: AFP).

On May 21, 2015, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the top European Union-level official, individually greeted the heads of all delegations attending the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, Latvia.

Standing on stage between Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland and Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma of Latvia, Juncker commented in a loud, jocular voice as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary approached: “the dictator is coming.” Juncker then extended his arm to shake hands and addressed Orbán directly as “dictator” and playfully slapped him on the side of the head (see video of greeting).

Many Hungarians, even those who oppose Orbán, voiced objection to Juncker’s condescending treatment of the prime minister. President Gábor Vona of the radical-nationalist Jobbik party wrote on his Facebook page (source in Hungarian):

I am also the leader of an opposition party, and I also have innumerable problems with Viktor Orbán and his policies, but this is an instance when I think that I must set my political affiliations aside. As a simple Hungarian citizen, I protest that which took place.

Obviously there are many lessons, everybody can draw their own. Two now occur to me:

1. Do they look at Hungary and its leader like this in the EU?

2. As Europeans, should we regard this person [Juncker]  as an authority and a leader?

At the other end of the political spectrum, Márk Herczeg of the liberal-democratic website 444.hu, one of the most popular and influential anti-Orbán media outlets in Hungary, wrote the following (source in Hungarian):

One does not have to be a specialist on protocol to see: Jean-Claude Juncker is a true moron. . . . Juncker has fallen to a level of boorishness unprecedented in the history of the EU, one that calls to mind Latin American dictators. . . . Who is leading Europe now, a lunatic or an enormous bumpkin? The scariest and most likely answer: both.

This is not the first time Juncker has publicly humiliated Orbán: in January 2015, the head of the European Union led Hungary’s prime minister off stage by the hand following a photo op in Brussels as if he were a child (see Back in the Fold?). In Juncker’s defense, he welcomed most delegation leaders to the May 2015 Eastern Partnership Summit in uncommonly casual and chummy terms (see video of all greetings). However, he reserved his only politically charged comment for Prime Minister Orbán, whom he—as many European Union officials—manifestly regards as an authoritarian renegade who has spurned the organization’s fundamental democratic ideals. Orange Files wonders based on the indignation that Juncker’s off-color greeting of Orbán in Riga aroused among Hungarians of diverse political stripes if growing European Union criticism and potential ostracism of Hungary’s prime minister might actually serve to enhance his political power rather than to undermine it?

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Back in the Fold?

On January 23, 2015, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks with European Union officials in Brussels during which they discussed his recent comments against non-European immigration (see Je Suis Viktor) and the impending official visit to Hungary of Russian President Vladimir Putin (source in Hungarian).

After the talks Prime Minister Orbán and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker shook hands and smiled for the cameras. However, instead of loosening his grip at the end of the joint photo-op, Juncker said “Let’s go now!” and led Orbán off stage by the hand in a gesture calculated to symbolize the assertion of European Union authority over the previously defiant, euro-skeptic prime minister of Hungary (see video below).

 

 

Until recently, Orbán would not have allowed himself to be placed in a position of such blatant and humiliating subordination, particularly toward an official from the European Union. 

However, over the past couple of months his position has weakened considerably both internally and externally:

According to all five major polling companies in Hungary, the popularity of the prime minister’s FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) governing alliance has declined sharply among Hungarian voters since October (source in Hungarian);

Unprecedented public conflict has taken place among Fidesz government and National Assembly officials since November, suggesting that the Orbán administration’s previously rock-solid internal cohesion is diminishing (see Another Cleft in the Monolith);

Officials from the dominant countries within in the European and Euro-Atlantic alliances that provide Hungary with vital developmental funding and military protection—Germany and the United States—have sent strong messages to the Orbán government that they will no longer tolerate its autocratic and explicitly illiberal domestic policies (see Proclamation of the Illiberal Hungarian State) and reluctance to support collective measures designed to penalize the Putin administration for Russia’s occupation of Crimea and proxy attacks on Ukraine (see Teutonic Shift and The Spectacular Fall);

And the main foreign-policy endeavor of the Orbán government, building (economic) ties with the rapidly developing states of Asia, Eurasia and the Middle East through in what it refers to as Eastern Opening [keleti nyitás], has failed to produce the anticipated results (source in Hungarian).

The above factors, coupled with the greater emphasis that European states have placed on internal unity to combat Jihadist terrorism following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in early January 2015, have apparently compelled Prime Minister Orbán to at least temporarily steer Hungary back toward the western political sphere.

The political force in Hungary that stands to benefit the most from Orbán’s volte-face: the radical-nationalist Jobbik party, which opinion polls show has gained popularity among Hungarian voters as that of Fidesz-KDNP has declined (see source in Hungarian and 24 Bastions). Jobbik will likely generate significant political profit from the anti-liberal, anti-capitalist, anti-European Union, anti-West sentiment that Prime Minister Orbán has so proficiently incited among Hungarians over the past five years in order to legitimize his authoritarian domestic policies, though now appears ready to moderate or abandon.

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