The institution of double standards has long been seen in the European Union, with two important manifestations in the 21st century that have been going on to this day. The first could be observed after the 2004 accession wave and is experienced even today. Here, the act of “treating them differently” is most prevalent in relation to the West and East, manifesting in the behaviour of politicians in Western states that former socialist countries should be educated about democracy, the rule of law, or even market economy. Another manifestation of double standards, which has become more pronounced since 2015, can be observed between left-liberal and national conservative or pro-immigration and anti-immigration states. The former ones are subject to “positive” judgment in the rhetoric of Brussels, while the latter ones are subject to constant criticism by EU bodies, trying to underpin in various Commission reports, mainly related to the rule of law – with the help of Soros organisations – that democracy is being violated in countries rejecting the Islamization of Europe and that the level of corruption is high.
On 17 May 2017, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution condemning Hungary, namely that there is a clear risk of a serious violation of the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which justifies the initiation of proceedings under Article 7(1) of the TEU. In its resolution, the EP called on the Committee on Civil Liberties Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to draw up a special report regarding the Hungarian rule of law, which was commissioned Judith Sargentini. The final text of the so-called Sargentini report was adopted by the specialised committee on 25 June 2018, and the resulting document, in addition to being interpreted as a manifesto of the European double standards, pointed out without doubts the influence of George Soros in EU institutions and his intervention efforts in EU and Hungarian politics.
In her report, Sargentini criticised the abolition of the actio popularis (ex post review of norms that can be initiated by anyone at the Constitutional Court), which is not widespread in Europe at all, inter alia at the request of the Constitutional Court, classifying it as an anomaly in the functioning of the constitutional system and ignoring the introduction of the constitutional complaint, an institution – also common in Germany – that provides specific protection of fundamental rights for individuals. A perfect example of double standards is that while Hungary is being condemned for allegedly undermining the powers of the body of judicial robes, it is Brussels that intends to limit the powers of the Polish Constitutional Court (classifying it as illegitimate). However, there is no concern for the rule of law at EU level that Denmark, the United Kingdom (which was an EU Member State in 2018), Sweden and the Netherlands do not have separate constitutional courts. In the report, the Dutch MEP expressed her concern that Hungary had withdrawn from the Open Government Partnership Program in 2016, a cooperation of which Austria, Belgium and Slovenia, among others, were not members at the time, though they were not criticised for this. The document also questioned the fairness of the 2018 elections, citing limited access to information and freedom of the media during voting. However, limited access to information was not supported by any fact or final verdict, and opposition parties were over-represented in terms of their media coverage in the year before the election.
While these unfounded allegations against Hungary were sufficient to initiate a procedure under Article 7, in the case of Western European countries, again under double standards, the fact is overlooked that almost all the major media outlets can be linked to the left-liberal wing, and already in 2017, the danger of media concentration existed even in Finland, which is often cited as an example. Migration was not left out of the report either, emphasising that the fundamental rights of immigrants are being violated in Hungary, while Brussels has been less bothered by the Spanish border fence or the hermetically closed border between France and Italy.
Similar double standards can be experienced by countries in the annual rule of law reports. Documents that usually condemn our country, without any meaningful support, make allegations of corruption and incomplete functioning of democracy in a general manner, including the issue of minorities falling short of rights.
Regarding the relationship between the Orbán government and corruption, the reality is that members of the same political community headed the executive branch in 1999, when Hungary joined the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and then Fidesz governments after 2010 launched comprehensive anti-corruption measures and a National Anti-Corruption Program. In addition, the medium-term National Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2020-2022 is currently implemented.
Over the last ten years, the functioning of the state and the use of public and EU funds, as well as the public procurement system, have become much more transparent and disciplined. Hungary is also performing well at EU level and has excellent cooperation with international organisations in the fight against corruption.
The Hungarian Public Prosecutor’s Office issued an indictment in 45 percent of the cases initiated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) between 2012 and 2018 (the EU average was 36 percent at that time), compared with 21 percent in Germany, 25 percent in France, and 30 percent in Romania. However, the allegations of corruption against these countries are much quieter or non-existent. In 2020, prosecutions took place in two-thirds of the cases investigated by the Hungarian authorities, a rate that is exceptionally high at EU level, as the latest EU average is 37 percent.
We have already pointed out double standards in the field of minority rights with regard to Frans Timmermans, who, as Vice President of the EC, considered police brutality against the participants in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum, where hundreds of people were injured, to be proportionate and acceptable. However, he continuously criticised the border protection measures, including the presence of the police, taken by the Hungarian government during the migration crisis, even though they were indeed proportionate and complied in all respects with the Fundamental Law and legislation. The number of anti-gay crimes in Hungary is negligible, still Hungary has been subject to a series of charges of homophobia in recent months, because the healthy physical, mental, and spiritual development of children is protected by law. In contrast, according to the Dutch gay rights organisation COC Nederland, there were 1,295 homophobic incidents in the Netherlands in 2016, and 1,574 such cases were detected in 2015.
According to a survey conducted by the University of Amsterdam, two-thirds of homophobic attacks in the Netherlands were carried out by immigrants, but just because of the origin of the perpetrators, the Benelux states do not have to face an anti-LGBTQ stigma. As for the Jews and the anti-Semitic accusations of the liberals, in November 2020, Slomó Köves, Chief Rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH), said at a conference organised by the Friends of Hungary Foundation: “Hungary is probably the safest place for Jews in Europe right now. […] As far as anti-Semitic tendencies are concerned, Hungary is definitely safe in international comparison.” In 2019, there were 35 anti-Semitic incidents in Hungary, which is significantly more positive than similar data in Western countries with significant Muslim communities, yet we are accused of anti-Semitism.
A series of double standard application by Brussels is also experienced by EU citizens. The research of Europe Project 2021 (hereinafter: Research) conducted by Századvég, surveying 30,000 people in 30 countries, shows that respondents in a proportion of higher than 2 to 1 believe that there are double standards against their country in the European Union.
Figures clearly show that this is not a one-time snapshot, the result is constantly distressing, since equality between Member States is one of the EU’s principles, which is clearly not achieved.
It can be concluded that even in the Visegrád countries, there is a majority of those who say that Brussels applies double standards to their homeland. Slovenes have the highest proportion (77 percent) who think so, while Denmark is at the other end of the scale, with a rate of 33 percent answering yes.
In addition to the double standards already discussed, the conclusions drawn from the Sargentini report, and the rule of law reports outline the criticisms of George Soros against the “renitent” states and his expectations of his own people. The interconnectedness of non-governmental organisations supported by the Open Society Foundation (OSF), which can be linked to the stock market speculator, with the reports and rapporteurs proves the influence and intervention efforts of Soros. It is worrisome in itself that the Hungarian rule of law was examined in 2017 and 2018 by a Member of the European Parliament who not only lacked legal qualification but also a degree. However, Judith Sargentini’s objective and professional criticism was overshadowed by other factors as well. The previously leaked list of DC Leaks includes MEPs who are declared to be reliable allies of George Soros, including Judith Sargentini (p. 77). The Dutch politician also signed a cooperation agreement with the pseudo-civilian organisation called Transparency International Nederland on 13 May 2014, according to which the NGO will register the representatives signatories thereto, and they must act in accordance with the organisation’s guidelines in the EU. George Soros consistently applies the tactic that he has the “civilians” financed by him dictate the content of various reports in Brussels. This was also the case when the 2020 and 2021 rule of law reports on Hungary were compiled. Regarding last year’s document, Judit Varga said that “It is unacceptable that the report was in fact written by organisations that are part of a centrally funded international network conducting a coordinated political campaign against Hungary. The Hungarian chapter of the report refers to 12 non-governmental organisations. In recent years, 11 of these NGOs have received financial support from the Open Society Foundations linked to George Soros.” NGOs actively participating in the preparations of the Sargentini report and the rule of law reports are as follows:
- Amnesty International, which received nearly USD 10 million, approximately HUF 3.1 billion, from OSF between 2016 and 2019.
- The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which received a grant of HUF 320 million from OSF and the Open Society Institute Foundation in 2019,
- The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASz), which received HUF 287 million in support from OSF between 2016 and 2020,
- Transparency International Hungary, which received HUF 66.5 million from OSF in the 2017-2019 period.
While in the field of NGOs, George Soros usually returns to the same things, he often “uses” certain people of his only on a project basis, to the extent of performing certain tasks.
In an internal video of Momentum Mozgalom leaked in October 2020, MEP Anna Donáth reported that “there have been a lot of informal phone calls, not only with them but also with the new Sargentini, Gwendoline Delbos, a French MEP of the Greens, who continues the issue concerning Hungary.” And indeed, the LIBE delegation to Hungary at the end of September 2021 was led by Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, who, playing the scores of Soros, continued discrediting Hungary internationally by using the same set of arguments as her Dutch predecessor, who strained the proceedings under Article 7 against Hungary.
The delegation led by Delbos-Corfield included Malin Björk, the first openly lesbian radical feminist MEP from Sweden, who, like Sargentini, is also on the DC Leaks’ list of Soros, and Nicolas Bay, MEP of the French National Rally, who wrote on Twitter that “The EU accuses Viktor Orbán because he rejects the mandatory migrant quota, does not give LGBT people extra rights and protects the traditional family.”
The fact that George Soros is present in all European countries through his generously funded pseudo-civilian organisations and tries to shape the internal affairs of the given state as an unelected political actor provokes strong aversion in the population. This is supported by the answers to the question of the Research in which Századvég asked the opinion of the citizens about Soros.
The result should be examined by considering the fact that, according to the latest data, more than half of the respondents, 68 percent, do not know George Soros, have no opinion about him or do not answer. However, of those who are familiar with the stock market speculator and its activities, 2.5 to 4 times more respondents have a negative opinion about him rather than a positive one. However, there has been a little increase in positive opinions of Soros, but this is no difference in magnitude, he still remains highly rejected.
The Research shows that there is no significant difference in the ratio of liking and disliking between the founding countries and those that joined in the 20th century, and the former socialist countries, the V4 and the EU average (+UK), it equals 2 to 5 everywhere in favour of a “negative” opinion. So, a ratio of 2 to 5 in each of the regions surveyed said that they rather dislike George Soros, that is, only two out of seven people like him.
The difference can be seen in the awareness about George Soros. Although he began its intervention activities much earlier in the West, far more people in the former socialist countries know his name, and only 17 percent of respondents do not, while in the case of the founding countries and those that joined in the 20th century, it is 36 percent, more than a third of those surveyed. George Soros has the lowest acceptance in Greece and the highest in Luxembourg (regarding the opinion about him, the rate of positive and negative opinions is 6 to 57 percent in the former case, and 17 to 21 percent in the latter, so, even there he is considered to be a rather disliked person).
The Research also included whether respondents considered it acceptable for social media sites to delete user content from sites based on their own political views.
The issue is extremely topical as the news came to light a month ago that Magyar Jeti Zrt. had won the tender implemented through the funding of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), obtaining the right and support to establish the Hungarian Digital Media Observatory (HDMO). The launch of this observatory – with the officially declared goal to filter out disinformation – by Magyar Jeti Zrt., which can be linked to George Soros at several points, can be seen as another attack on national-based governance and right-wing thinking in general, and thus as an intervention in Hungarian internal affairs and next year’s elections, supporting the opposition.
The clearest evidence of the political bias of the new Hungarian “observatory” is to look at which organisations’ delegates are given sources and authority to conduct online censorship: only journalists in left-liberal editorial offices (Direkt36, Mérce, 444). HDMO also has an international background, the European Digital Media Observatory and the French news agency AFP, which uses Facebook censorship to silence right-wing voices only. However, the restriction of the right of expression, without any constitutional justification, on a solely political basis, is rejected by most European citizens, albeit in a declining proportion.
Respondents consider politically motivated online censorship to be unacceptable at a ratio of nearly 2 to 1. If the respondents refusing to answer are also included, it is also shown that more than half of Europeans reject the politically motivated deletion of user content.
There is a significant difference in the acceptance of such censorship between the citizens’ responses in the founding countries and those that joined in the 20th century, and the former socialist countries.
Only a ratio of 53 to 31 percent of the founding countries and those that joined in the 20th century reject politically motivated deletion of user content. In contrast, the number of responses of “unacceptable” is almost three times the number of “acceptable” in the former socialist countries. The countries most radically rejecting online political censorship are Bulgaria with a ratio of 77 to 13 percent, followed immediately by Hungary (76 to 14 percent) and the Czech Republic (73 to 14 percent).
The Project Europe research
In the first half of 2016, the Századvég Foundation conducted a public opinion poll survey covering all 28 European Union Member States, with the aim to analyse the opinions of EU citizens regarding the issues that most affect the future of the EU. In a unique way, Project28 conducted the widest possible survey of 1,000, that is a total of 28,000 randomly selected adults in each country. Gaining an understanding of society’s sense of prosperity and mapping the population’s attitudes towards the performance of the European Union, the migration crisis and the increasing terrorism were among the most important goals of the analysis. The Századvég Foundation, on behalf of the Hungarian Government, conducted the research again in 2017, 2018 and 2019, which continued to reflect on the topics that most determined the European political and social discourse.
In 2021, the aim of the survey is again to map the population’s attitude towards the most important public issues affecting our continent. In addition to society’s sense of prosperity, the performance of the European Union and the attitudes towards the migration crisis, in line with the latest challenges affecting Europe, the dominant theme of this year’s poll is the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, energy supply and family policy. In addition to the European Union Member States, the 2021 research covered the United Kingdom, Norway, and Switzerland, interviewing a total of 30,000 randomly selected adults using the CATI method between 1 and 15 September.