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Background paper I: The rule of law in Hungary and the role of German politics and business

Dale Pike / Unsplash
Dale Pike / Unsplash

The current conflict over the rule of law is increasingly straining relations between Hungary and the EU. The conflict is becoming increasingly problematic for German stakeholders, too. Hungary is blocking important EU decisions and increasing the pressure on German companies.

Hungary, once a post-socialist prime example of the transition to a democracy in line with European values, is now facing a democratic shambles.

The background paper "The Rule of Law in Hungary and the Role of German Politics and Business" traces the relevant developments since 2010 in detail. In particular, it sheds light on Germany's role in Hungary’s increasing autocratization.

The assumption of office by Viktor Orbán and his national-conservative Fidesz party in 2010 resulted in a continuous dismantling of democratic and rule-of-law institutions. This has led to ever greater fault lines between Budapest and Brussels. However, democratic regression also affects bilateral relations with other member states, especially the German-Hungarian relationship. While the Merkel cabinets since 2009 have taken a laissez-faire attitude toward the Hungarian government, the “Ampel” coalition as a result of the “Zeitenwende” is showing a more determined attitude to oppose the dismantling of the rule of law. But even today, German-Hungarian economic interests play a major role in the relationship between Berlin and Budapest.

The goal of the OSF-funded project "Ungarn neu denken - rethink Hungary" is to create greater awareness in Germany of the effects of the dismantling of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary. This paper contextualizes the discussions in the first project workshop.

Team & authors

About the Ungarn neu denken – rethink Hungary project: The relationship between the EU and Hungary is strained because of the situation regarding the rule of law. What is Germany's role in this after the "Zeitenwende"? The IEP is creating a dialog format for German stakeholders from politics, business and civil society.

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