Investigation reveals system of mutual benefits between German car industry and Orban government

A probe by Hungarian media outlet Direkt36 showed how Prime Minister Orban uses close ties to German car manufacturers present in Hungary to his political advantage in exchange for generous state subsidies and tax cuts.

According to the article, a top executive of a German automobile manufacturing group told industry figures at a reception in Frankfurt in 2017 that his company had successfully enlisted Orban during the diesel emissions scandal to protect the industry’s interests in the European Council.

A German business source told Direkt36 that German carmakers “absolutely feel that the Hungarian government is in their pockets.”

This relationship of mutual benefits also affected the media landscape in Hungary, as German car manufacturers and other big companies reportedly avoided advertising in independent media outlets.

A source who worked for Deutsche Telekom in 2012 when the Hungarian government wanted to impose a new tax said that the car manufacturers, which had a special status, failed to support Deutsche Telekom and German energy companies in their disputes with the Hungarian government.

In an article for pro-government newspaper Magyar Nemzet, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote that liberalism was destroying Christian principles, adding that liberals were attacking the things most important to Christian Democrats, “such as the nation, the family and religious tradition”.

Orban also attacked international financier and philanthropist George Soros, who he accused of “enriching himself through the ruin of others”.

“The citizens of European nations soon realised that today’s European institutions do not serve them, but the interests of George Soros and his ilk,” Orban wrote.

He called “the network that promotes a global open society” the greatest threat to national self-determination. “The goals of a George Soros-style network… are clear: to create open societies of mixed ethnicity through the acceleration of migration, to dismantle national decision-making and hand it over to the global elite.”

In the article, Orban also endorsed US President Donald Trump’s re-election bid in November, stating that the US foreign policy by Democratic administrations was built on “moral imperialism”, which leaders like Orban rejected. In reference to the EU, Orban described the rule of law as “the rule of blackmail”, arguing that international organisations were “vulnerable to infiltration by Soros-style networks”.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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