Tibor Navracsics, the minister for regional development, called for “more respect for Europe” at an event on Monday. “We must understand Europe if Europe is ever to understand us,” he said at a presentation of Mathias Corvinus Collegium’s (MCC) Europica Varietas book series. Europe is primarily a cultural unit, Navracsics said, emphasising the importance of a shared European culture. “Europe is increasingly becoming synonymous with the European Union,” he said.
“Right now we’re experiencing the birthing pains of a shared European political formation, but it’s unclear how it’ll turn out,” Navracsics said. He said it was clear that European institutions “aren’t where they’re supposed to be”, arguing that neither the European Commission nor the European Parliament were “moving along the path set out by the founding treaty”.
At the same time, the minister said European public opinion was taking shape. He cited migration and climate change as examples of issues that had become Europe-wide issues by the 2019 European parliamentary elections, warning that the same could happen regarding the question of Hungary and democracy in the 2024 elections. “A shared European political space is taking shape, and we’d better learn its language if we want to enforce our interests,” the former European commissioner said.
Though the EU may want to be a democracy, until it has a political community behind it, “it will not have democratic political legitimacy”, Navracsics said. He added, however, that rather than the EU wanting to become a democracy, it was demanding that member states fulfil “some sort of vague criteria of democracy”. Concerning the idea of European federalism, Navracsics said the EU was not heading towards becoming a European super-state, but rather a community that transcends nation states.