The majority of right-wing MEPs voted for Ursula von der Leyen, while the majority of left-wing MEPs rejected her. As a result, she became President of the European Commission with the support of the centre-right and the right, Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at his press conference held on Thursday in Budapest.

The Minister highlighted that Ursula von der Leyen could not have become candidate for the position of President of the European Commission without the support of the Hungarian government and the V4, and without the votes of the government-party MEPs, she could not have become President of the EU body.

He said the EP is much more fragmented than at any time before, it is divided into more political communities than earlier, and so it is harder to achieve a majority. It is therefore a particularly remarkable feat that they managed to secure the support of the majority of MEPs. The 13 government-party votes were necessary for this outcome also mathematically, he added.

He said “we have trust in the elected candidate; this is advanced trust”.

Mr Gulyás observed that the new European Commission and its President will have major responsibilities to attend to, which they will have to get down to amidst difficult circumstances. Europe is not in a good state; the now departing Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s greatest virtue is that he has left behind “mistakes in sufficiently large numbers” in order for his successor to learn from them, he said. These include the management of the migration situation, the fact that he only joined the ranks of those who support effective border controls after the emergence of the pressure of migration, and that the EU has failed to reimburse Hungary’s border protection expenses to this day. He said, listing the mistakes, that it is also a major problem that the conditions of Brexit – Britain’s departure from the EU – are still unclear.

The Minister stressed it has likewise been ascertained that the Spiztenkandidat (lead candidate) system is not viable; not a single lead candidate was able to obtain the support of the majority of EU heads of state and government. By contrast, the person they nominated eventually became President of the Commission. Neither Frans Timmermans, nor Manfred Weber has become President of the Commission. From Weber, “at his request, we withdrew our support,” while we abstained from supporting Timmermans right from the beginning, he pointed out.

He highlighted that, as a result, the Commission is not headed by a person who attacked any of the Member States earlier, and who – due to their political past – would not be capable of acting as a coordinator and of playing the role of guardian of the Treaties.

In answer to a question regarding the votes on the officials of EP committees, Mr Gulyás said national interests must be represented also in international organisations. However, in the case of the left-wing opposition, one cannot speak of the representation of national interests, despite the fact that if someone receives a mandate from Hungarian electors, they must represent Hungary’s interests, he stated.

He said there is an agreement among the different groups on the issue, the different political forces come to an agreement with one another. Even if “we did not find fit” a communist, liberal or green candidate for holding an office on a committee, “we would adhere to the compromises we reached,” he said.

In answer to a question regarding the government’s view on Ursula von der Leyen’s statement to the effect that she will fight for European values, the Minister said “we are able to fight together against those who would like to weaken European values,” and “we regard [this statement] as an invitation to engage in a common fight”. All of this is true of the genuinely important principles of the rule of law, such as the rights of national minorities, he added.

Regarding the fact that on Wednesday the UN’s rapporteur called upon the government to reconsider the extension of the state of emergency due to the migration situation, Mr Gulyás said when the term of the state of emergency comes to an end, the Ministry of Interior will make recommendations as to the course of action to follow, which the government will then consider. We are happy to listen to anyone’s advice, but the UN’s report must be treated with some reservations as the world organisation’s position on the issue of migration is known well, he recalled.