Hungary drops EU-Africa treaty veto after guarantee on sexual rights

Hungary will drop its veto on the EU’s new treaty with the African, Caribbean and Pacific community after securing assurances from the European Commission that the treaty will not take any powers on migration control and sexual rights from national governments. 

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A written statement by Jutta Urpilainen, the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, guaranteed that references in the agreement to sexual rights are legally binding on member states, said Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign affairs and trade minister, following a meeting on Wednesday (19 April) with Mauritian counterpart Alan Ganoo. 

“Since all decisions regarding migration and sex education, as well as the employment and integration of foreigners, remain in the hands of the member states, and since we will have no legal obligation regarding sexual rights, we feel that we have fulfilled the expectations of the parliament and can agree to the EU signing the post-Cotonou agreement,” Szijjártó said. 

The post-Cotonou agreement is now expected to be formally ratified at a summit in Samoa in the coming weeks. 

The new treaty with the 79-member ACP was finalised by negotiators in 2021 after three years of negotiations. Since then, Hungary has been withholding its approval on the grounds that the treaty’s provisions on the repatriation of migrants to their country of origin are too weak. 

Although the new agreement does not change trade relations between the EU and the ACP or feature a component on EU aid, the failure to ratify it had prompted concerns among European Commission officials that the bloc would be viewed as an unreliable partner.  

However, the references to equal rights and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexuality had also prompted disquiet in a number of African states.  Earlier this month, Uganda adopted new legislation imposing harsh prison sentences for homosexual acts, while a similar bill has been proposed in Ghana. 

Hungary has employed similar delaying tactics over the past year to delay the accession of Finland and Sweden to the NATO alliance as well as financial aid to Ukraine in response to the European Commission’s decision to withhold billions of euros in post-COVID recovery funding from Budapest over concerns about rule of law and judicial independence.  

On Wednesday, the United States urged Hungarian lawmakers to vote in favour of Sweden’s NATO accession before a NATO summit in Vilnius in July. 

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]


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