The Occupation of Brussels: Plan of Viktor Orbán for Europe

According to Viktor Orbán, Hungary is preparing for war. “We need to go deeper, occupy positions, gather allies and fix the European Union…It’s not enough to be angry. We need to take over Brussels!” the prime minister of Hungary asserted at the end of 2023.

Viktor Orbán has criticized the EU for years, riling up populist support and hammering a right-wing ideology underpinned by traditional family values and nationalism. However, there has been a shift in his tone, hinting at a drastic change in the approach of the politician to the EU.

Nowadays, the EU faces a completely new Euroskeptic, who has an intention to shape the supranational organization instead of leaving it. Therefore, Orbán makes a lot of efforts to have an impact on a wide variety of policies, including migration, struggle against climate change, and assistance for Ukraine. That is why he has already poured a lot of financial resources into Brussels, building the necessary infrastructure for the purpose of determining the conversation in Brussels, because he prepares to take on the rotating presidency in July.

One of such infrastructure objects is a huge 18th-century mansion the Hungarian government purchased in 2021 for the presidency of the EU Council. The space renovated by Hungary will complement the embassies of the country to the EU and will serve as a venue for different cultural events. The mansion referred to as “Hungary House” is one of many additions to offensive of soft power of Hungary in the capital of the EU.

The Mathias Corvinus Collegium, an Orbán-backed think tank, leads the ideological assault of the country. The organization founded a branch in Belgium in 2022, striving to disrupt the think tank circuit of Brussels. This Collegium provides children from poor backgrounds with scholarships to visit centers across Hungary, where they can participate in extra-curricular activities and obtain some additional education.

Young staffers from the European Parliament communicated with representatives from EU countries at a recent event held by the Collegium in Brussels, as they hear from a wide variety of right-wing activists on the rise of populism. According to director Frank Furedi, the association was aimed at providing people with the necessary “intellectual resources” to resist a dominant culture, which wants to “shove gender politics down our throat” and “destroy our past.” Furthermore, the report made by the organization and called “How did LGBTQ take over the EU?” argues that “the issue of sexual rights has been weaponized to demonize EU Member States of Central and Eastern Europe.” Furthermore, Hungary also funds the European Conservative, a website and magazine, covering the EU news in accordance with conservative ideas.

Viktor Orbán asserted in March that he had not seen such a good opportunity for Christian-based, conservative, and national forces to become decisive in the EU in a long time, amid a right-wing surge in Europe. “…change could start from June. That’s my hope, and I’m working on this. I [will] try to play a role to unify the right … and sweep away the socialist, leftist, progressive, liberal dangerous guys,” added Viktor Orbán.

It is obvious that Viktor Orbán does not want Hungary to leave the EU. Support for the supranational organization is high in Hungary, according to the recent survey, which found that 72 percent of the Hungarian population stressed that the EU membership is a good thing. Therefore, Viktor Orbán and his allies insist on reshaping the EU and allocating more power to national governments instead of the institutions in Brussels.

The perfect guide to the vision of Hungary for Europe is the vetoes Budapest has resorted to in Brussels. Viktor Orbán has used his veto to block everything from an EU position regarding global taxation to sanctions on Russia to assistance for Ukraine. That is why the frequent application of the unanimity rules by Orbán has led to calls from Germany and France to remove such rules in particular EU decision-making areas, for instance, foreign policy.

Hungary prepares to rule the EU Council for six months, many Brussels officials expect a bumpy ride. The holder of the presidency is supposed to set aside its national interests, but officials reckon that Orbán will use this opportunity to impact the EU decision-making process. Foreign Minister of Hungary Péter Szijjártó has asserted that the migration policy of the EU will be a focus of the presidency of the country. Furthermore, enlargement will be another priority, but on the terms of Hungary. The country is expected to focus on the aspirations of the Balkan countries instead of supporting Ukraine in this process.

Moreover, opposing the positions taken by other EU leaders, Viktor Orbán has expressed his respect to the American conservative TV host Tucker Carlson, supported the bid of Donald Trump for reelection, and congratulated Vladimir Putin on his election victory. In addition, Xi Jinping has regarded Viktor Orbán as his friend. It turns out that Viktor Orbán declared the following, “Make Europe Great Again! Over there MAGA, over here MEGA!”

The impending presidency of Hungary in the EU Council and the rising power of Viktor Orbán, who is sympathetic to Vladimir Putin and his aggressive policy toward the EU, pose a huge threat to the very existence of the EU as a supranational organization. The tolerance of the EU toward such politicians as Viktor Orbán may give Russia an impetus to expand its influence in Europe and continue a war against Ukraine.

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