Europe is one of the richest and freest regions in the world. It is the talent and enduring diligence of the European people that made her like this. Colossal economic, social and cultural power. As a vanguard of global change for centuries, Europe has demonstrated her capacity for unprecedented and outstanding achievement.
Over the course of the past century the people of Europe – learning from their past tragedies – have demolished the obstacles that would prevent the continent from reaching its full potential. They overthrew the totalitarian dictatorships of national socialists and communists. They established the rule of law, democracy and slowly learned how to live in peace with each other as their common affairs were dealt with by an ever-closer union. These are sensational successes of a historical scale.
Today, however, Europe is in trouble.
Europe’s biggest problem is that she has lost her self-confidence because citizens are losing their trust in the efficiency of collective European action.
The leaders of integration have spent too much time and effort building the European institutional system, seeking ideological and practical positions in it, and in the silent, stealthy slicing of the Member States’ sovereignty. Meanwhile, they paid little attention to European citizens, for whom the integration was designed in principle. Therefore, if they look back over their shoulders today, they will find significantly fewer supporters than ever before.
The EU has always been proud of being able, despite the large number of different interests, to manage the common affairs of the continent through compromise and mutual concessions, whereas quick and resolute action has never been one of its main characteristics.
Compared to this, the dominant feeling today is that while the EU is still performing routine tasks on a day-to-day basis, the machinery is unable to cope with big, systemic problems. The leaders of the Member States meet every three months, but the common wagon gets stuck more frequently and we can only hope it goes forward.
It is incapable of performing important tasks. Whether it is the euro crisis, mass migration, military aggression near our borders, holding itself together (Brexit) or the establishment of a new world trade and global development system, the EU lacks strategic responses – and it gets paralyzed. It is the definite impression of European citizens that the EU’s responses to these challenges are consistently late and weak.
The main directions are set by others, external powers, multinational economic conglomerates, global hedge funds, worldwide networks called civic organizations with simple-minded, aggressive agendas, biased credit rating agencies or media moguls representing their own interests, cross-border organized criminal groups, human traffickers and drug smugglers. Meanwhile, we are just reacting, lagging behind or watching helplessly as others outperform us.
Europe has lost her capability to lead and direct when it comes to the world’s and her own affairs.
This is accompanied by a global uncertainty about political elites, the end of traditional political stability, and the systemic erosion of political will to act both on national and international levels.
In order for our acquis to survive and to revive the cooperation of European nations, we need a change. We need a massive change. Nothing should be left untouched.
Of course, change is never easy. On top of that, the experiences of Western Europe in the wide sense and the peoples of Eastern and Central Europe who have joined the European Union more than a decade ago are each other’s antagonistic opposites. The experience of the West is 60 years of stability and unbroken progress, while the collective conscience of the East is filled with uncertainty, continuous crisis and constantly seeking a way out.
This is the reason why the West keeps sticking to old, already expired solutions or the thought that a tiny bit of change and some patching up will be enough. There is no need to move things completely around. This is also the reason why the East is more open and sometimes even adventurously ready to experiment with new solutions and replace old recipes with fresh ones.
The first and most important task today is to regain popular support for the success of the European project and political stability. The distrust is political, so political tools can and should be used to dissolve it. The principal instruments of modern politics are political parties, which are meant to mediate between the people and institutions.
Christian democratic, conservative, nationalist and civic parties were the ones that assisted at the birth of the European Union, the very same powers that steer Europe today. Hence, our responsibility is much greater than that of others.
For decades, the European People’s Party has been the party of victors. It has become the party of victors because, being true to its name – opposed to abstract, far-out ideologies that would prohibit action – it has always represented the people, the honest, the often politically incorrect popolus that is nowadays so often ridiculed and dismissed by mainstream, liberal media.
Not so long ago, EPP leaders were leading most Member States and the EU. However, there are fewer EPP prime ministers sitting at the EU table today than five years ago. Its parties – except Fidesz and the Cyprian member party – are either governing in coalition, often in grand coalition, or in minority. Most of them are in opposition. They are forced to make more compromises, give up more of their center-right principles.
Defeated, microscopic, insignificant opposition parties won’t be able to carry out great center-right ideas. We are astonished to see how the field for People’s Party centrist politics is constantly shrinking, how left- and right-wing forces, with irresponsible promises tear away ever-bigger pieces from the center-right electorate, and how the Greens, Socialists, Liberals or the superficial press are binding political parties in the intellectual strait jacket of political correctness.
This mischievous tendency should be reversed. We need to win the people’s heart back. In the center of the EPP’s logo there is a heart. Fidesz entered the first democratic elections with the slogan ‘Listen to your heart!’. We will never abandon the idea that Europe’s right-wing parties are not just the parties of rational solutions but also of values that are important to people, such as nation, family, love, faith and loyalty.
The task of the European People’s Party and its member parties is to restore the European and national beacons of trust, security and success. But this can only be carried out if the party itself is renewed, too. The European People’s Party needs a new policy that pays attention to the people. This new policy could be built on stable foundations, decades of rich experience with people and reality.
I believe that a successful, new European policy can only be based on successful national performance. Instead of serving as a punching back for the European left, we, Hungarians, the country that successfully recovered from the economic crisis, can set an example through our pioneering practices. The worn and experienced Hungarian model can help others take a step forward.
The workfare society, the policy of giving jobs instead of dependency-creating welfare aid, the model of fair distribution of the burden of economic crisis, the reduction of utility costs, state help to liberate citizens from the slavery of bank loans, governmental support for childbearing and housing, the halting of the process of indebtedness of the future, the national consultation that asks for the people’s opinion even on difficult and important issues, guaranteeing freedom of speech without the taboos of political correctness, the historically tested idea of building Europe on strong nation states, the protection of constitutional national identities, the decisive protection of borders and respect for the law, the respect for common European civic, national and Christian traditions – these are all building blocks of the successful Hungarian model.
Contrary to the positions of politically correct lecturers so famous in the West – often accompanied by colonialist arrogance – we do not ask anyone to copy us. At best, we quietly suggest that it may be worth looking behind the artificially and deliberately erected curtains of the outrageous smear campaign directed against us because one might find something there that can actually benefit others. We trod the path. We don’t claim it was easy or fun.
The example of Hungary’s success, its waking to power and consciousness, can help its European friends get out of the crisis, it can help them regain the support of the people. We, Hungarians, have worked hard for this and we optimistically believe that it is indeed possible to preserve one of the most important political achievements of humanity, which has recently come under heavy fire: majoritarian democracy and freedom.