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German official slams Hungary over China-Hong Kong stance

June 4, 2021

The European Union must discuss ways of managing dissenting voices among its ranks, including qualified majority voting on foreign policy, according to Miguel Berger at the German Foreign Ministry.

Miguel Berger
Miguel Berger has spoken out over Hungary's decision to block the EU over its China policyImage: DW

A German official on Friday took a dim view of Hungary's recent moves to block European Union statements, and suggested reform was necessary to enable qualified majority voting on foreign policy.

German Foreign Ministry State Secretary Miguel Berger feels as though Budapest has overstepped the mark in its blocking of the EU's intentions to speak out against China over Hong Kong.

It is the second time in the last three weeks that the Hungarian government has been the only dissenter among EU voices, after it declined to join the other 26 member states in calling for a ceasefire during the recent Israel-Palestine conflict.

Hong Kong protesters look back

Time for change

One vote is enough to block joint initiatives on security policy, but Berger wants that to change. The politician on Foreign Minister Heiko Maas' team wrote on Twitter that the EU's common foreign and security policy would not work if it was so easy to block joint initiatives.

"Hungary again blocked an EU statement on Hong Kong. Three weeks ago it was on Middle East," he posted. "We need a serious debate on ways to manage dissent, including qualified majority voting."

Hungary's strained relations with the EU

Hungary and the EU have been at loggerheads for some time, particularly over democratic issues.

On Thursday the European Court of Justice rejected a challenge by Hungary to a decision to probe Budapest's alleged "serious breach" of the bloc's democratic values.

China clampdown

When Britain relinquished its former colony in 1997, Beijing said it would maintain many of the freedoms the people of Hong Kong have, unlike those in mainland China. 

But it seems that those promises are fading and the EU is keen to put out a joint statement, condemning China's crackdown on democratic movements in Hong Kong, but Budapest does not want to back the initiative.

jsi/msh (Reuters)