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The European Parliament with Hungarian eyes, 2014-2019

The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade held its last round table discussion with the title: The European Parliament with Hungarian eyes, 2014-2019 - The activities and results of the European Parliament Hungarian MEPs in the current EP cycle on 4 April 2019. The invited guests were Csaba Faragó, the Foreign Affairs Director of the Századvég Foundation and Attila Kovács, external analyst of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade. Moderator tasks were performed by Barnabás Szabó, researcher of the Institute.


After a short introduction, the conversation started with a handler from the two guests. Attila Kovács drew attention to the core of the event: the upcoming European Parliament elections. On this occasion, he gave an overview on a recent research project on the legislative activity of MEPs. In this context, a new database has been set up containing hundreds of thousands of European parliamentary legislative amendments tabled to the legislative proposals. The dataset can be filtered by MEP, Member State, party affiliation, EP committee and legislative procedure. The dataset makes it possible to prepare and visualize statistics regarding the legislative activity and efficiency of MEPs. Based on the dataset we can analyse the cooperation (networks) of MEPs, Member States and EP Groups as well as we can see in what policy areas MEPs, Member States and EP Groups prioritized.

Following the presentation with several illustrative examples, Csaba Faragó was given the floor, who started with some introductory thoughts. He highlighted the ideological crisis that is present in the European People's Party, which he believes is not a recent phenomenon, as it was already perceptible in 2014, but has only recently become disruptive due to problems affecting the European Union (migration crisis, Brexit). According to him, as a result of various "non-natural alliances" with the Social Democrats and Liberals, the European People's Party now has 2-3 branches, and this has brought the party family into a serious crisis of values.

The first part of the discussion was followed by moderator and audience questions. One of the questions posed was the Hungarian-Portuguese left-wing relationship and the traditionally strong left-wing parties in Portugal.

Another question was whether in the last decades the European People's Party has moved to the left or the Fidesz to the right. Attila Kovács views that both tendencies are somewhat true, while Csaba Faragó believes that the European People's Party is shifting to the left, which triggers the loss of its traditional values.

There was also a question for the participants of the conversation about the "ever closer union" and the realization of the European United States, but in this respect the general belief was that due to the division between Member States, these concepts can only be realized on a case-by-case basis. The last audience question was directed to a more precise meaning of "European solidarity". Moderator Barnabás Szabó also asked a question to the two guests, whether in addition to the party-based organization, there is indeed a kind of national-based cooperation between the Member States. There was a clear positive response to this, mentioning the "natural alliances" arise from national and national economic characteristics.

Finally, the moderator asked the two participants in the conversation for a prediction for the next EP cycle. Attila Kovács believes that Fidesz will remain in the European People's Party, and Manfred Weber will not be the President of the next Commission. On the other hand, Csaba Faragó's opinion was that Weber will be the next President of the European Commission, and Fidesz-KDNP will obtain 15 or more mandates in the European Parliament elections.

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