The European Commission is going to start “legal procedures” against Hungary for criminalizing support for migrants within the nation’s borders according to Reuters. This presents an interesting case of both free speech and national sovereignty. Hungary is violating the concept of free speech and freedom of association by forcing individuals to not support migrants, while the European Commission is also against acting directly against these “Western values” by trying to force Hungarians to do the opposite and deliberately using force to change a nation’s opinion, which brings the role of the nation-state in the EU back into question.
Hungary, despite being deep in the Postmodern Empire itself, has many growing critical ideological differences with the bloc of nations that cannot be reconciled. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has many times called for the EU to return to its Christian roots in both rhetoric, and far more importantly, policy. And unlike many supposed “Euro-skeptics,” Orban’s government has actually built a wall and routed the flow of migrants away from Hungary. This is action and not just populist words to pacify dissent. The European Commission finds this lack of support for migrants to be some sort of violation of human rights. However, due to such actions by Orban, his “fan base” is growing in the European “silent majority”.
Furthermore, Orban himself is reputed to have coined the term “Illiberal Democracy” as the name for what he and many in especially Eastern Europe see as a possible new political theory for the 21st century.
As you might imagine, the average ultra-Postmodern, ultra-Liberal Brussels bureaucrat is not particularly thrilled with any of Orban’s moves (despite their massive popular support in Hungary), especially his desire to create some sort of competing ideology to the status quo. That in today’s medieval Europe is blasphemy. At times it seems as if the only thing that Hungary and the EU agree on (for now at least) is that Hungary is a European nation.
The only real punishment that could be enacted on Hungary by the European Commission, if found “guilty”, would be some form of sanctions. However, this means that if the organizers of the union have the power to punish members of said union, then those members are actually subjects of it, not free willed “members”. Even if you are against Orban and his policies, one has to admit that if the EU is to be a group of nations working together, no one should have the power to punish “misbehavior”. Nor should they be able to economically attack the civilians (this is whom sanctions harm the most) of their so-called allies.
“The United States of Europe” would be a much better name for the “European Union” than its current branding because it is far more accurate, as the EU is beginning to resemble the US more and more. Ohio may have different speed limits than Massachusetts, but it will not under any circumstances be allowed to go against Washington’s policies. Some conspiracy theorists say that some sort of Federalization is the ultimate goal for the EU. The threats coming from Brussels sure seem to make these conspiracy theories look more closer to conspiracy fact.
Besides the hypocrisy, one major question is just how will good Europe punish bad Europe with sanctions within the framework of a block of nations with total free trade and open borders? Sanctioning closed off Russia is one thing, but how does one go about economically striking realm of the Magyars?
One punishment that could actually be devastating for Hungary (in the short term) would be being ejected from the EU entirely. This would create a geopolitical nightmare of Hungary as the landlocked nation would be surrounded on nearly all sides by the EU with the exception of a small border with pro-European (yet also war-torn and collapsing) Ukraine to the East, and economically limited but possibly friendly Serbia to the south. Serbia is a wonderful place with wonderful people, but relying on it for an economic outlet will not work. Hungary getting the boot would give it the same destiny as many of the former Soviet Republics being torn from deep economic ties instantly, then being forced to build new ones with absolutely no wealth to accomplish the task.
The threat of being completely removed from the European Union would force Orban to back down or at least make some concessions. However, if they were to do this, it could cause major blowback.
Orban and his popular policies did not come from out of nowhere or be some sort of personal gripe. Orban hated Hungary being dictated to by Moscow during Communism and hates it being dedicated to from Brussels now. Discontent for the EU continues to grow and the “ejection” of one member could lead to further instability and a possible domino effect. In many ways, economies live or die based on “confidence” in them: an ejection from the EU could create a crisis of said financial confidence.
We can see that, surprisingly, Orban actually has the strong hand for the moment. His policies feed his popularity: so as long as he keeps pushing hard for a more independent pro-Hungarian Hungary, he will stay in power, and so long as he is in power, he can push for a more independent Hungary (however, one cannot rule out a western-backed anti-Orban “color revolution”). The EU really has no means to punish him, and any attempts to do so just show how restrictive and repressive the EU can be to the masses; and trying to eject Hungary from the Brusselsreich could backfire violently.