Jokes About Hungarian ‘Dictator’ Masked Breach at Heart of EU

Viktoria Dendrinou, Bloomberg, 10.12.2020

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When Jean-Claude Juncker spotted Hungary's Viktor Orban at the start of a European Union summit in 2015, he greeted him with a friendly handshake and a cheeky slap on the face.

"The dictator is coming," the EU veteran from Luxembourg joked to colleagues milling around on camera before their talks began in earnest. No one's laughing now. [...]

Even if the new mechanism tying funds to the rule of law is watered down or hard to use in practice, its mere existence could help, said Janis Emmanouilidis, a director of studies at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, because it may deter governments from the most blatant abuses and offer support to domestic parties that are more in line with the EU's core values.

"Having this conditionality mechanism in place, it is opening the door in a certain direction," he said. [...]

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