With systemic violations of fundamental liberal-democratic standards and the repeated use of vetoes in the European Union, Hungary openly challenges the EU’s identity as a community of rights and values and undermines its capacity to act. This poses substantial challenges for Germany, which must reconcile the interests of German companies that have invested heavily in Hungary with its foreign policy agenda.
While Germany’s stance towards Hungary under Viktor Orbán’s rule since 2010 has been ambiguous, the current German government has a more value-driven foreign policy approach that was reinforced by the “Zeitenwende”. York Albrecht proposes to put this approach into action by seeking stronger cooperation with other like-minded EU member states to complement efforts by the European Commission. While the Commission is the ‘Guardian of the Treaties’, the member states could – and should – contribute more to defend the EU’s fundamental principles which are their principles, too. Avenues for such a ‘biting intergovernmentalism’ could be utilizing Article 259 TFEU and stronger engagement with the European Commission.