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Is Hungary on its out of European Union?

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The recent victory of Viktor Orban claiming his 4th term as Hungarian prime minister, his populist agenda, nationalistic vision, resistance to the liberal democratic regime, and closeness with Beijing and Russia through its ‘Eastern opening strategy’ could sail Budapest out of the European Union.

Hungary’s Differences with European Union:

1. LGBTQ+ Rights: While EU Parliament declared the union as LGBTQ free zone Hungary under Viktor Orban has turned against rainbow people’s rights. It started in 2013 when co-habitant and same-sex people were excluded from the definition of family, then in 2018 gender studies programs were banned in Universities, and in 2020 gender recognition was abolished and transition banned.
Recently passed Anti-gay people law by the Hungarian parliament banned schools from promoting homosexuality or sex reassignment; it also barred schools from educating students on sexual culture, sex life, sexual preferences, and sexual development. It also restricted ads containing LGBTQ content. It further allowed the only governmental organizations to provide sex education to children.
2. Conservative vs Liberal: Almost every member of the European Union follows a western liberal democratic ideology but since Orban came to power in Budapest, Hungary drifted towards staunch nationalism, modern populism, and conservatism. EU cherishes the values like freedom, democracy, rule of law, and respect for human dignity and human rights enshrined in article 7 of the Brussels Constitution while Viktor Orban’s government control over the press, cracking down on human rights activists, and silencing dissents signals rather towards authoritarian rule.
In recent times, Orban in support of his patriotic vision has spent 5% of Budapest’s GDP on programming supporting people who chose to have more children to hinder the Hungarian population decline. Couples having three or more children gets substantial tax cuts, free meals, Kindergarten education for children, and other benefits.

3. Immigration Policy: While the rest European nations have accepted refugees and Immigrants in large numbers during the Syrian civil war and Ukraine crisis, Hungary closed its borders. The harsh Budapest immigrant policy led to the 2015 crisis when thousands of Muslims in Hungary have to move further north into Europe. The recent ‘Stop Soros’ law passed by the Hungarian parliament makes assisting an asylum seeker a criminal offense.

4. Closeness with Beijing: European Union in recent times have degraded its relations with china given Beijing’s human right violations against Uiyughur Muslims, its aggression towards Taiwan, and growing closeness with the kremlin. Hungary has gone closer to China in search of heavy Investment, it was the only nation in the EU to approve and use Chinese covid vaccines.

Fudan{shanghai}campus, a Chinese university signed a contract with the Hungarian government to open an overseas campus in Budapest which will cost around $1.8billion which is much higher than the total education budget of the country. Out of $1.8 billion, $1.5 billion will be taken as a loan from a Chinese bank which is considered a debt trap.

6. Foreign Policies: Hungary has time and again hindered the independent foreign policy stance of the EU, it vetoed the statement in support of the ceasefire between Israel and Palestine when violence broke out in 2021, Budapest also restricted the EU from issuing a statement in support of maintenance of human rights in honk kong amidst crushing of democratic values by Beijing. While Union has referred to China as a ‘Systemic rival’ Hungary is drifting towards Beijing to attract FDI. 

Can Hungary Move out of the EU?

While legally Hungary is allowed to leave the union under Article 50 of the treaty of the European Union which allows the nation to leave the union through the referendum, the Hungarian public is not in support of leaving the union. Further Budapest is among the most benefitted nations in the EU. Intra-EU trades account for 78% of Hungarian exports and 71% of its imports. According to European Commission estimates Hungary between 2024-2027 will gain an annual average of € 17.8bn more than if it were not part of the EU. 80% of public investment in Budapest comes from the EU’s Cohesion funds, which are intended to help poorer regions.

Hungary could choose to move out of the Euro-group but it will be an economically inefficient and long-term impractical decision. Going closer to Beijing will lead to Budapest getting trapped in China’s debt-trap diplomacy. Further, Hungary’s separation from the union will fuel Orban’s nationalistic vision and autocratic rule which will add it to ‘the list of nations facing authoritarian rule and living under the shade of nationalism’.

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