Tag: Hungary

Why Has Hungary Been Left Without Covid-19 Vaccines?
Europe

Why Has Hungary Been Left Without Covid-19 Vaccines?

Hungary Been Left: While the world frantically awaits a Corona virus vaccine with the strongest efficacy rate, Hungarians are skeptical about receiving a jab. They are not feeling prepared of being immunized, reports have confirmed. The blame is being redirected towards Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán an, who seemed to have forgotten to get the requisite vaccine into the country in time. 

In his attempt to show off that Hungary could go against the rest of the EU set vaccination strategy, he has left the public unprepared for vaccination completely. The rest of the EU is started to receive the vaccinations and has already started a stagewise rollout on December 27, 2020. 

As Hungary has been singing its own tune, it had decided to disregard altogether the European Commission’s plan for a coordinated bloc-wide rollout. The state of affairs is quite ironic to the claims made by Orban a few months ago where he accused European regulators for ‘taking too long’ to approve the vaccine. He had been confident that Hungary would be the first country in Europe to use Russian and Chinese shots.

Hungarians would like to stick with what the bloc is prescribing as a trusted vaccine. Orban’s own credibility is in choppy waters amongst his own. 

A public poll conducted by Pulzus for Napi.hu in November had confirmed that almost 53 percent Hungarians would go with the EU approved vaccine candidate, while only 11 percent would use a Russian or Chinese vaccine. The state of affairs remains the same as the year comes to an end. Even health professionals worry that vaccine skepticism might affect all vaccination efforts.

Many critics feel that Orban has been preoccupied flexing in political muscle that he has thrown the lives of the Hungarians into the gallows. With a new strain of virus already destabilizing travel and New Year plans, Hungarians have their own fears about Orban’s intentions. 

It has been further confirmed that infact, Orban has been too busy pushing the Russian vaccine Sputnik IV that has not even gone through significant human trials. While researchers feel it is a good attempt, but can’t be used for mass immunization. 

Currently, medical practitioners are suggesting that the government should still push for a large-scale public health campaign. This will reassure the public about the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines. With multiple vaccine candidates flooding the market, it is no doubt that the Hungarian population is feeling even more lost and lonely that they were a few months back, when Orban decided to veto the EU led stimulus package decision. 

With deadlock resolved, bloc breaks the stalemate with EU budget and Covid-recovery fund
Europe

With deadlock resolved, bloc breaks the stalemate with EU budget and Covid-recovery fund

Covid-recovery fund: European Union had chalked out a budget and Covid-19 recovery fund for the bloc as €1.8tn, but the deal had faced a deadlock after Poland and Hungary had threatened to veto the budget. The two nations had warned to veto over clause that tied the decided the EU budget with rule of law adherence. The deal has now been struck right after EU leaders reached a deal with Poland and Hungary. 

The unprecedented seven year budget of €1.8tn along with the coronavirus pandemic is now unblocked of the raised objections regarding payments and their link with maintaining rule of law. Hungary and Poland, the multi-annual financial framework, or the pandemic recovery fund, known as Next Generation EU. Post months of tensions, the compromise tabled by Berlin was accepted by Hungary’s and Poland’s prime ministers, Viktor Orbán and Mateusz Morawiecki, respectively, during a summit in Brussels.

Charles Michel, European Council President tweeted, “Now we can start with the implementation and build back our economies. Our landmark recovery package will drive forward our green and digital transitions.” 

Poland and Hungary had said that a “rule of law” condition on funds distribution which is designed to block corruption, was legally unclear and vague and could come back to bite Warsaw and Budapest on the back as a punishment over recent rows and differences ranging from issues like migration to laws regarding treatment of LGBTQI+ communities. The plan was finally backed by the two countries after addition of a text assuring that conditions would only be applicable to future spending was added. 

Furthermore, the tool legality will be ruled by the European court of justice, if challenged. The EU’s supreme court will place its judgement before commission publishes guidelines regarding triggering mechanism. This will delay clause implementation beyond 2022 – the year when Orban is due for national elections. 

The bloc’s remaining 25 member states had warned Poland and Hungary of going ahead with recovery fund agreement if they continued to block it. Many countries, including Sweden and Netherlands had insisted on keeping the clause conditions as such, arguing that they could not and should not ignore poor governance anymore. 

The EU had agreed in July on the €1.1tn budget for 2021-2027, and further €750bn as coronavirus stimulus fund. But the package required a unanimous support by all EU bloc members. 

Covid-19 vaccine, between geopolitics and science
Geopolitics

Covid-19 vaccine, between geopolitics and science

Geopolitics and Science: The disastrous 2020 is about to end. Among the wishes for the new year, also the anticipation for the vaccine to be received for all. December 8, 2020, will be remembered as the day 90-year-old Margaret Keenan was the first person in England to receive an mRNA vaccine outside of a clinical trial. But the historical moment we are about to live in is full of dark questions that have little to do with science. So, what story should we prepare to tell the new-born from next year? The story of the Covid-19 pandemic has unveiled issues never dormant in human history.

While the now ex-US President Donald Trump was trying to grab European companies at the forefront in the field of vaccines, other nations proceeded to vaccinate essential people in this war on the virus, like hospital staff, police, public transport drivers at home. We remember that Europe has always been and still is at the forefront in this sector worldwide. According to several reports, China had already started in spring 2019 with its self-sufficient vaccines. Also, Russia has already begun using its Sputnik V for some time and is now proceeding with mass vaccination. In the West, things follow different paths. There are precise rules agreed internationally in Europe and the USA that observe this way.

The European Commission still underlines that vaccines are the best opportunity we have to end the Covid-19 pandemic and officially proclaims that it is working to ensure that vaccines are safe, effective, and available for all following a rigorous procedure that includes: validation tests in the laboratory, studies in large clinical trials, evaluation by the European Medicines Agency, and authorization by the European Commission for the whole of Europe after consultation with all member countries. But even in democratic Europe, nationalism influences voters. So, Boris Johnson asked the British regulatory authorities to approve the Pfizer & BioNtech vaccine. Mass vaccination started from the first in the Western world. We read that Boris’s political situation a few days after Brexit is not the best. Therefore, one can imagine why he did it, as well as perhaps the risk of having to pay duties if everything had happened after the breakup.

Phase 3 studies must take place where the infection affects many people. For example, in China, the cases are practically eliminated except in people who come from other countries, so a study that follows the rules of a correct clinical trial it is not technically possible. Consequently, the vaccines are going tested in other nations where the virus is doing more victims like Brazil. In the United States, which has the largest number of cases in the world, Chinese vaccines are not tested, of course. But China, in its great power, has started collaborations with many other countries, poor and rich, like the United Arab Emirates to penetrate those markets, using the vaccine as a Trojan horse. The same for Russia with Turkey and perhaps in the future also with Hungary, feeling part of the European Union and a little not.

It is important to note that the largest vaccine experiment in history is starting. Thanks to modern technologies, it will be possible to evaluate and ascertain the safety of vaccines in an extremely superior way compared to when the two vaccines for polio were introduced in the 1950s. A few weeks ago, the World Health Organization declared Africa polio-free. This infection could be declared eradicated if pockets do not persist where there is fighting, where there are religious exploitation and where those who go to vaccinate children risk their lives. The combination of interests to keep the arms market profitable and religious fanaticism play on the ignorance of poor people and leave us insecure that we are not all defended. Then the bill is paid by the most vulnerable patients or the immunosuppressed.

EU Bloc Might Take Diversion Route Around Hungary Poland Resistance To Covid-19 Recovery Package
Europe

EU Bloc Might Take Diversion Route Around Hungary Poland Resistance To Covid-19 Recovery Package

EU Bloc Might Take Diversion: European leaders might have no choice but to bypass the disgruntled countries Hungary and Poland. Their efforts to get going with the urgent post Covid-19 recovery funds. 

Strangely, both these nations are the biggest beneficiaries of the European subsidies. Yet they are holding the rest of the 25 EU nations to ransom, over an argument that the rule of the law must not be applicable on them anymore. 

The EU bloc has created an autonomous system of judging good governance through the rule of the law, something that the whole bloc has adhered to. However, Hungary and Poland have their reasons to revolt against it. They have indulged in unfair and discriminatory actions against certain ethnic groups in their country. There has been systematic violation of human rights too; something the EU bloc has been vehemently opposed to. 

There has been war of words against the rule of law going on for decades, but to the dismay of both these overtly conservative dictatorial leaders, EU bloc has never succumbed to their political pressure. 

As the situation stands now, there are three more value creating ‘bypass’ routes being discussed. The former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has suggested one. He is a leading liberal in the European Parliament. According to Verhofstadt, the EU bloc could think of launching the recovery fund as a so-called enhanced cooperation among a group of only ‘willing states’ under the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

Going outside the treaty signed with Hungary and Poland. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has suggested a more radical approach of “re-establishing the EU without Hungary and Poland” or implementing the entire recovery package outside the existing treaties via an agreement among the 25 other governments. Nevertheless, any of the suggested deviations will come with legal ramifications.

It is being advised that the 25 European nations that are in tandem with the €1.8 trillion long-term budget and coronavirus recovery fund, should keep their safety net spread out- start the legal drafting work to establish the recovery fund outside the EU framework. But this should be treated as the last resort.

Recovery Fund, risks for Europe after veto of Poland and Hungary
Europe

Recovery Fund, risks for Europe after veto of Poland and Hungary

Risks for Europe: An unprecedented set of European resources (around 1,800 billion euros) risks of being frozen. If the heads of State and Government do not overcome the impasse caused by the veto imposed by Poland and Hungary at the European Council. The crux concerns respect for the rule of law. Poland and Hungary refuse that the disbursement of funds is subordinated to this, which is a founding principle of Europe, explicitly confirmed by a resolution of the EU Parliament. The mechanism provides that if one of the Member States violates the shared basic principles, including the independence of the judiciary from the executive power and freedom of expression, aid can be suspended by majority vote, while the two countries involved would like to unanimity.

The close link between the EU budget and the Recovery Fund.

The deal already for the 2017-2021 multi-year funds is worth 1,074 billion euros. To that, the EU added the 750 billion of the Recovery Fund. If member States not approve the budget by the end of the year, the European Commission cannot start the procedure for placing the 750 billion euros of Next Generation Eu loans. 

The consequence is twofold. 

The payment of the relative sums to be disbursed to the Member States will suffer an inevitable, further delay, and all this can only seriously affect the economies of the Old Continent grappling with the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The other consequence is that, in the absence of the green light to the multi-annual budget of the Union, the European Union must face the economic crisis without a real fund. And in provisional exercise, would loom for the second time in two years. If the beginning of the reference year, the annual budget has not yet been adopted, which becomes inevitable if the Multiannual Financial Framework is not approved, the provisional twelfths regime is triggered. That means the expenditure made monthly by the budget chapter cannot exceed one-twelfth of the appropriations authorized by the budget of the previous year or in the draft budget proposed by the Commission. Then the EU cannot fund any new expenditure. Only a few items of investment will be honored, such as subsidies to farmers, the salaries of Union employees, humanitarian aid, cohesion projects already underway. Instead, rebates for the countries benefiting from it would be suspended. And above all, there would be no funds available for the new Union policies, such as the Green Deal.

The current German presidency is working these days to identify a reasonable compromise that can break the deadlock. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel is a skilled and experienced negotiator. And therefore, an agreement on the wool thread seems still possible. In consideration of the specific interest of the Polish and Hungarian governments in being able to benefit from European funding, 62 and 20 billion respectively, which already in the current expenditure framework they see the two countries beneficiaries of the Union’s resources. The hard-line of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbàn seems to meet the favor of most of their respective public opinions. While the other European countries (starting with the so-called frugal) seem unwilling to give in on an aspect considered an impassable stake. The agreement reached in Brussels after the negotiation marathon, in July 17-21, had deliberately faded on the subject of respect for the rule of law. 

Possible alternatives.

Angela Merkel does not currently contemplate any plans B, should the impasse not be overcome. However, we are discussing possible ways out, starting with the use of “enhanced cooperation,” as suggested by France and the Netherlands. An instrument envisaged by the Treaties but rarely used up to now. Alternatively, the 25 member States could create an intergovernmental agreement to start the executive phase of the Recovery fund, excluding Warsaw and Budapest. But Angela Merkel seems very unwilling to exclude Poland in particular. The European Parliament chaired by David Sassoli is watching over the whole case, and unlikely he could make himself available to step backward on the subject of respect for the rule of law.

Hungary Poland Might Delay Post Pandemic Recovery Aid
Europe

Hungary Poland Might Delay Post Pandemic Recovery Aid

Hungary Poland Might Delay Post Pandemic Recovery: Hungary and Poland are jointly vetoing the accord of the jointly financed economic recovery package for the European Union.  Strangely, they are the biggest beneficiaries of the post Covid package. 

Both the nations have never seen eye-to-eye with the EU on anything. Earlier, there was a tiff over abortion ban that was strongly opposed by the EU bloc on the condition that it amounts to violation of human rights. 

A seven-year budget support was decided upon in July this year.  EU leaders also agreed to support the more needing nations with a robust stimulus program funded by joint debt. However, parts of this accord does need unanimous backing by member states.  Therefore, with Hungry and Poland raising up some kind of red flags, this is only going to hurt other needing nations like Italy or Spain for example. 

The pandemic situation had hit the economy of many EU member countries in bad ways. Most have lost their economic standing and are now finding ways to ensure their people can keep their jobs. Unemployment is a direct result of lack of trade in these countries. Italy and Spain for example, who depend heavily on their tourism related trade have been adversely affected due to second and third wave of the Covid-19 virus infection. 

This week, the EU member state leaders went ahead to sign off on a deal linking funds to the rule of law. Hungary and Poland have opposed the rule of the law from the very beginning. However, this part of the accord only needs an enhanced majority of member states. Further, debt issuance needs unanimity. This necessary money push to fund EU’s budget payments is being curtailed by Hungry and Poland’s resistance. Therefore, this sure shot chance to block the entire package remains a big possibility.

Polish economists feel this kind of resistance could mean investors would look for greener pastures elsewhere in Europe. The so-called ‘rule of the law’ principle is what has been the bone of contention for Hungary and Poland, which feel they are being pulled into autocratic function. But this political mishmash is a dangerous one to be in, because it will only delay the economic recovery help that most of the EU nations are in desperate need of. The result could be catastrophic- with only bureaucrats receiving salaries, some farm subsidies and humanitarian aid flowing into the various economies by the end of 2020. 

European Commission Finds It Tough To Get Poland and Hungary To Toe The Line Over LGBTQ Equal Rights
Europe

European Commission Finds It Tough To Get Poland and Hungary To Toe The Line Over LGBTQ Equal Rights

LGBTQ Equal Rights: Hungary and Poland seems to be hell bent to create an environment of exploitation and discrimination of the L.G.B.T.Q. community. Nevertheless, the European Union bloc is trying to curb this kind of behavior. 

It has now released certain policies to safeguard the fundamental human rights of LGBTQ community. It has been an initiative taken by the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union. As its first initiative, it has listed hate crime, including homophobic speech, on a list of “E.U. crimes”. The same list also contains offenses such as drug trafficking and money laundering.

Through this initiative, the bloc now has more powers to crack down on member nations. The proposal forwarded by the European Commission would also protect same-sex families in all 27 of the bloc’s members, and promises more funding for organizations promoting equality.

The move comes after a month long demonstration in favour of women’s rights has rocked Poland. The country has now put a ban nearly on all abortions. The protests have now extended to bring into the human rights of the LGBTQ community as well. 

Hungry on its part is also trying to muzzle people of the LGBTQ community by pushed its laws to target them, by including a bill that ties an individual’s gender to their sex and chromosomes at birth, restricting later modifications on official documents.

 The commission might find it difficult for compliance to fall through as two of the strong headed nations continue to be in loggerheads with the EU Commission. Hungry and Poland. For them, equality of the LGBTQ community is a foreign issue when for the rest of the member nations, it is a matter of respecting the fundamental rights of everyone irrespective of their sexual orientations.

Hungry is out on its way to alter its Constitutional Bill that will only recognize marriage between a man and woman and expects children to be raised in a Christian culture. 

There is no legal recourse available to the EU Commission. Its hands is tied to be able to impose itself on Poland and Hungary both. Both nations have revolted against the blocs centralized judicial system and stand on the rights of minorities. 

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