Ursula von der Leyen
© EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLETHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attend the second day of an EU Council meeting in Brussels.
Most political groups in the European Parliament want a probe into the European Commission's decision to unfreeze EU funds for Hungary, followed by a lawsuit in the EU's top court and a possible motion of censure, while also urging the Council to strip Hungary's voting rights over its rule of law deficiencies.

The Commission released €10.2 billion of funding for Hungary on 13 December, on the eve of an EU summit on support for Ukraine, in the hope of defusing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's threat to derail the negotiations and block the start of accession talks with Kyiv.

Although the green light had been expected, it quickly sparked outrage, with EU lawmakers accusing the Commission of giving in to Hungary's "blackmail".

Comment: Unsurprisingly hypocritical comments considering the Parliament and the Commission attempt to blackmail and coerce Hungary, and all others, who dare defy their agenda. Except the Eurocrats are often worse, because, repeatedly, the money they threaten to withhold has nothing to do with the issue they're objecting to; such as when they threatened to withhold lockdown funds from Hungary because Budapest objected to the EU's LGBT+ propaganda legislation.

With the agreement of a majority - composed of the socialists (S&D), the Greens/EFA group, the centre-right EPP, liberal Renew, and The Left group - the Parliament is expected to approve a strongly-worded resolution on Thursday (18 January).

Its two key items are a call for the Council to start the process of stripping Hungary's voting rights under Article 7.2 of the EU treaty and for the launch of a parliamentary inquiry to determine the legality of the Commission's decision to unfreeze the Hungarian funds, with a view to starting proceedings before the EU Court of Justice

Article 7.2 stipulates that the Parliament, with the approval of a two-thirds majority, can call on Hungary to answer before the European Council on its breaches of rule of law, after which national EU leaders could decide to strip the country's voting rights.

The Parliament also "instructs its Committee on Legal Affairs to take the necessary steps as soon as possible, in relation to the Commission's decision leading to the unfreezing of €10.2 billion, including the legal service analysis in accordance with Rule 149, with a view to review the legality of the decision... before the Court of Justice", reads the resolution's draft agreement, obtained by Euractiv.

"We are also sending a strong signal to the Commission: If they simply distribute billions of euros in order to evade Hungary's vetoes, they will not get away with it. (...). Because the rule of law does not work in Hungary, the European Parliament is now launching this lawsuit against the Commission," one of the resolution's leading negotiators, Green MEP Daniel Freund, told Euractiv.

A majority of EU lawmakers say the Commission's decision to release the funds was not based on objective improvements in Hungary's judiciary and rule of law, as argued by the EU executive.

A motion of censure on the horizon?

The Parliament hopes to send a warning to the Commission ahead of an EU summit on 2 February and prevent the executive from unfreezing further funds to Hungary in exchange for Orbán's support to further financial aid for Ukraine's defence efforts.

"[Commission President] Ursula von der Leyen allowed herself to be blackmailed by Viktor Orban and released 10 billion taxpayers' money to Hungary despite massive corruption in the country. The European Parliament is not going along with this and will challenge her decision before the European Court of Justice," Renew MEP Moritz Körner told Euractiv.

Comment: Another way to look at it, and which is perhaps more objective, is that von der Leyen is trying to pay off/blackmail Hungary, and Hungary is simply exercising its democratic right to object when it deems a policy to be wrong.

Renew, led by Hungarian MEP Katalin Cseh and Körner, is deciding whether to push for an amendment that would include in the resolution a motion of censure against von der Leyen, triggered if the executive were to unfreeze more EU funds for Hungary, Renew officials confirmed, adding that a final decision will be taken on Tuesday evening.

Renew's attempt to introduce a motion of censure vote could be seen as an attempt by the liberals to destabilise von der Leyen, who belongs to the centre-right European People's Party and may run for a second five-year mandate this year, and improve French Commissioner Thierry Breton's chances to snatch the top job.

So far, the EPP, the biggest group in the Parliament, blocked the motion of censure from the draft agreement, sources briefed on the negotiations told Euractiv.

This should not come as a surprise, as a motion of censure vote would be a serious blow to von der Leyen's political standing, which has been fragile since her staunchly pro-Israel response to the Israel-Hamas conflict caused outrage among Commission staffers and caught EU leaders off-guard.

Comment: Indeed, the establishment can't seem to understand why the proles don't support their Gaza genocide, or, at the very least, let them get away with it.

"The resolution was not weakened by the EPP", EPP MEP Petri Savarmaa told Euractiv, adding that "we have the most decisive resolution ever regarding Hungary... Now we need to bring it to a vote and see what kind of support it gathers."

"We are seriously asking the member states to ensure that the decision-making of the Union is not paralysed. We simply cannot keep kicking the can down the road anymore," he said.

S&D did not respond to a request for comments by the time of publication.