At a Luxembourg meeting of EU foreign ministers on Tuesday (15 October), Hungary called on the EU to stop funding for NGOs that undermine the sovereignty of neighbouring countries such as Israel and Egypt or states that contribute to illegal migration.
The move in itself is not surprising, since Hungary is domestically at war with philanthropist George Soros and NGOs helping migrants. A so-called “Stop Soros Bill” introduces prison sentences for those providing funds on a regular basis to such organisations.
The move also exposes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s alliance with Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who try to muzzle NGOs that criticise their policies.
A recent visit of Netanyahu to Budapest revealed that he too will call on the EU to refrain from supporting NGOs that undermine the sovereignty of neighbouring countries or that contribute to illegal migration.
A EU source told EURACTIV that Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó raised the issue of the importance of controlling NGOs receiving EU funds. However, he did not provide any examples.
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini responded that the EU had very strong checks in place, and stressed support to NGOs is ongoing and will continue on this basis.
No one else intervened, although Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini is at war with NGO migrant rescue ships.
Even the former Italian government, as well as the French authorities have said that NGOs in the Mediterranean act as “taxi service” for people smugglers.
Conversely, the S&D group in the European Parliament nominated the NGOs saving lives in the Mediterranean for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.