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Martijn van den Brink: Taking the Gamble? A Legal and Political Analysis of the Possible Suspension of the Hungarian Council Presidency

Despite its increasingly autocratic style of governance, Hungary is set to take over the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in the second half of 2024, Martijn van den Brink (Jacques Delors Centre, Hertie School of Governance) writes in his CEU DI Working Paper.

Since doubts exist about the country’s capacity to exercise the responsibilities that come with this office, different proposals have been put forward to suspend a Hungarian Presidency. This paper offers a legal and political analysis of these proposals.

First, the author argues that the proposals in their current form are inconsistent with the requirement in Article 16(9) TEU that the Presidency of the Council shall be held by the Member States on the basis of equal rotation. It is in line with this provision to delay a Hungarian Presidency for some time, but not to sanction the country for as long as it continues to violate the rule of law.

Secondly, being mindful of these legal constraints, he questions whether delaying a Hungarian Presidency is a smart choice politically. The choice of delaying a Hungarian Council Presidency is something of a gamble. The analysis suggests it might be better to allow Hungary to chair the Council in the second half of 2024 rather than in several years.

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