Navracsics EU appointment is a slap in the face for Orbán regime

Tibor Navracsics received the lowest ranking position in Jean-Claude Juncker’s new European Commission, having been appointed commissioner for education, culture, youth and citizenship. Mr. Navracsics has served as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s foreign affairs minister, but it is widely believed that this position will now be passed on to Péter Szijjártó, one of Fidesz’s most vocal supporters of the new “Ostpolitik” and a staunch Orbán loyalist.

As part of Mr. Navracsics’s new position, he will serve as a liaison with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, as well as with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. A leadership chart appearing on the European Commission’s website puts Mr. Navracsics at the very bottom of the hierarchy. “I like it. Let’s have a try”, tweeted Mr. Navracsics.

The new European Commission.

The new European Commission, with Tibor Navracsics listed in the last row.

A number of Eastern European politcians were appointed to significantly more important positions than Mr. Navracics. Latvia’s former Prime Minister, Valdis Dombrovkis, will be in charge of the portfolio for the euro and social change-related issues. Slovenia’s former prime minister, Alenka Bratušek, will deal with energy and climate change-related questions. Poland’s Elžbieta Bieńkowskájé is the new commission for the internal market and industry.

In comparison, Mr. Navracsics’s posting is a clear knock in the teeth from the EU. The Orbán government’s appointee was strongly opposed by large sections of the European Parliament’s left-centre, liberal and green parties.

The European greens and one of their Hungarian partners — András Schiffer of the party Politics Can Be Different (LMP) — protested Mr. Navracics’s appointment. Mr. Schiffer noted that Mr. Navracsics has no national experience in the field in which he is now expected to work in Brussels. Benedek Jávor, an MEP affiliated with Együtt-PM, added that it was tantamount to a “bad joke” to appoint Mr. Navracsics to a portfolio where he would have to work with NGOs, especially in light of this week’s politically-motivated police raids.

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