European Parliament asks Commission to investigate pro-Serb Commissioner

European Parliament asks Commission to investigate pro-Serb Commissioner
European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhely. Credit: European Union

The Parliament asked the Commission on Wednesday to launch an investigation into the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Hungarian Oliver Várhelyi. The commissioner is accused of not sufficiently supporting democratic reforms and the rule of law in developing countries in their accession to the EU, Le Soir reports.

In an annual report on the implementation of a common foreign and security policy (CFSP), adopted by parliamentarians on Wednesday, the assembly expressed its deep concern about reports that the former diplomat was “deliberately seeking to elude and weaken the centrality of democratic reforms and the rule of law in the countries in the process of joining the European Union.”

The parliament has urged the Commission to launch an independent investigation into whether the behaviour and policies pursued by Várhelyi, who was proposed to the commission by controversial Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of the European Commission and his obligations under the treaties.

Acting against EU interests

The calls for an investigation are being spearheaded by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) faction in the European Parliament. According to them, the commission “constantly plays down the attacks of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić’s attacks on democracy and, allegedly, even assisted Milorad Dodik’s separatist actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH),” the group said.

“The S&Ds agreed on Commissioner Várhelyi’s candidacy under the condition that he act only in the interest of the entire EU. Not in the interest of the government in Budapest. Now, three years into the job, there is serious cause to believe that the Commissioner pursues Mr. Orban’s agenda,” said S&D shadow rapporteur, Dutch MEP Thijs Reuten.

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The opponents claim that in his tenure as Commissioner, Várhelyi has prioritised advocating the “realisation of Mr Orban’s agenda.” Várhelyi has long been questioned about his pro-Serbian position, particularly in response to unfriendly acts against BiH by Dodik and the so-called “Day of Republika Srpska” on 9 January.

“Accountability for the Commission is crucial. We do not pass judgement. That is up to the outcome of the investigation. But the persistent reports about Orban’s Commissioner cosying up with autocrats to undermine democracy require immediate action. We cannot allow a commissioner accused of supporting secessionists to run amok in EU accession countries,” Reuten concluded.

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