European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourová | Pool photo by François Lenoir via Getty Images

Commission backs Jourová following Orbán’s resignation call

Hungarian prime minister accuses Commission VP of ‘a humiliation to Hungary and the Hungarian people.’

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The European Commission on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for Vice President Věra Jourová after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán demanded that she step down from her post overseeing work on EU values.

Jourová enjoys the “full trust” of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a spokesperson said, adding that the Commission’s concerns regarding Hungary are “well-known.”

In a letter to von der Leyen on Monday, Orbán said Jourová made remarks that were “derogatory” and “insulted EU citizens of Hungarian nationality.”

The move came after Jourová raised worries about the state of Hungarian democracy.

“Mr. Orbán likes to say that he is building an illiberal democracy,” the Commission vice president, a liberal Czech politician, told Der Spiegel in an interview published Friday. “I would say: he’s building an ill democracy.”

In reaction to the interview, Orbán demanded Jourová’s resignation and said that the Hungarian government was suspending all contact with her.

“These statements are not only a direct political attack against the democratically elected Government of Hungary that has become commonplace, but also a humiliation to Hungary and the Hungarian people. The former is inappropriate, the latter is unacceptable,” Orbán wrote to von der Leyen.

The move came as the Commission prepares to unveil its first annual rule of law report on Wednesday, examining each of the bloc’s 27 members. It also comes as Budapest is locked in a fight to water down a proposed mechanism linking the distribution of EU funding to respect for the rule of law, and as Hungary enters campaign mode ahead of elections in 2022.

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The Hungarian government, which has faced criticism that it is undermining checks and balances and democratic norms, has repeatedly clashed with the Commission in recent years.

A Hungarian minister called for the resignation of Frans Timmermans in 2017, when the Dutch politician held the rule of law portfolio. The Hungarian government also ran a public campaign against then-Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2019.

Authors:
Lili Bayer 
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