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Justice Minister Judit Varga opened in Parliament a conference dubbed “Dialogue on the future of Europe: How to build a more effective and genuinely strong Union”. Europe, Varga said in her opening speech, was now navigating “dangerous waters”. The justice minister said nobody could have foreseen the scope of difficulties that the EU has had to face in the past fifteen years, including the global economic crisis, Brexit and the novel coronavirus epidemic. “Hungary’s position is that while mutually beneficial areas of cooperation must be identified, it is necessary to respect traditional differences,” she said at the conference organised by the Justice Ministry and the Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law. The principle of subsidiarity, she said, must be respected, adding that coronavirus has shown that member states are better at handling such crises. European institutions must learn from member states, Varga said. “The Hungarian government nurtures a close relationship with citizens”, regularly holding National Consultation surveys on current issues, she added. Varga said Europe must think in the long term, adding that expansion was a fundamental tool for achieving stability.
Earlier, in an interview to public radio, Varga said the rule of law “must not be used as a tool for political blackmail”, commenting on planned rule of law reports on European Union member states. Completing such annual reports was proposed by Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. “The rule of law is a priority in Europe but when it is deployed on the level of political statements, it could easily turn into a rule of blackmail,” Varga told Kossuth Rádió. Hungary fully agrees that the rule of law is a priority but if financial sanctions are introduced without specifying what standards must be met, then the rule of law comes to an end, she added.
Hungary expects that the sources of the reports promised by Von der Leyen to be released later this month, she said, adding that experience from recent years showed that “national governments’ opinions are not given as much focus as pseudo-evidence constructed from cross-references by various NGOs,” she said.