Scandalous and Misleading': Věra Jourová Criticizes Hungary's Anti-EU Campaign

Věra Jourová, the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for values and transparency, has strongly criticized Hungary's anti-EU campaign, labeling it as misleading and filled with "verifiable lies."

In response to a question from Euronews on Tuesday afternoon, Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission, expressed strong condemnation of Hungary's billboard campaign. She described the campaign as "outrageous and scandalous," asserting that it not only offended her and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen but likely did so to most, if not all, members of the College of Commissioners.

Jourová emphasized that the campaign lacked the spirit of "sincere cooperation," a fundamental principle in European diplomatic relations. The billboards, which first appeared on Hungarian streets in mid-November, depict von der Leyen alongside Alexander Soros, the 38-year-old son of billionaire George Soros and the current chair of the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

A prominently capitalized message declares, "Let's not dance to the tune they whistle!"

While the Soros family and the Open Society Foundations (OSF), known for supporting civil society organizations worldwide through grants, have faced criticism from the Hungarian government in the past, this state-led campaign marks the first direct targeting of Ursula von der Leyen.

The billboards aim to promote a non-binding national consultation seeking the opinions of Hungarian citizens on various EU policies. Participants are presented with two response options—one against and one in favor. The survey, known for its incendiary and deceptive language, has been sent to Hungarian households with a deadline of January 10. An online version is also available.

When questioned about the consultation's content, Věra Jourová denounced the questions and answers as "verifiable lies."

Commissioner Jourová has dismissed certain claims, clarifying that assertions such as Brussels aiming to 'abolish public support for utility costs' or 'abolish the Hungarian windfall tax' are untrue. According to Jourová, decisions on such matters are left to individual member states.

Addressing another claim regarding Brussels' alleged support for Palestinian organizations, potentially reaching Hamas, she labeled it as a "pure lie." Jourová emphasized that the Commission has thoroughly reviewed its development funds for the Palestinian territories and found no evidence of funds going to Hamas.

Jourová's strong condemnation marks a significant rebuke of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's recent efforts to undermine EU decision-making. She asserts that the ongoing campaign is intentionally spreading falsehoods to mislead Hungarian citizens, a stance that represents a clear disagreement with such tactics.

This criticism comes in the wake of last month's revelation that President von der Leyen, upon seeing the billboards, remained undeterred. A Commission spokesperson stated that the president trusts the Hungarian public's ability to form opinions based on objective, factual information.

In the midst of this dispute, Brussels and Budapest find themselves at odds, with Orbán's threat to withhold support for Ukraine and block accession talks adding further tension to the situation. Despite these challenges, the Commission emphasizes its commitment to managing crises, implementing policies, and moving forward with its agenda.

Orbán's opposition push has escalated with numerous attacks targeting the credibility of the Commission and the authority of President von der Leyen, gaining momentum in its intensity.

In a recent speech, Orbán questioned the perception of European governance, asserting, "Rather than analyzing the European structures at length, just think about your daily experience of the press – of how often it seems to the public that Europe is being run by the Commission and its President." He emphasized that von der Leyen is, in fact, an employee paid to execute decisions made collectively.

The simmering tensions are anticipated to reach a critical point later this week during a two-day EU summit. The confrontations underscore the ongoing power struggle and differing perspectives between Orbán's government and the EU institutions.