Fianna Fáil’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Niall Collins TD has questioned the judgement of Fine Gael following its decision to back Manfred Weber as candidate for EU Commission President, due to his support for Hungarian PM, Victor Orban. Deputy Collins also raised concern over the Fine Gael candidate’s ability to implement EU treaty obligations on Hungary and other populist governments.

Deputy Collins made the comments after it became clear that Fine Gael and Leo Varadkar, as Taoiseach, were supporting Manfred Weber in the European Peoples’ Party selection process.

He added, “In the last few weeks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined his party’s support for Mr. Weber as the EPP candidate for Commission President.

“I find this concerning given Mr. Weber’s recent statements in support of Mr. Orban whose party Fidesz sits with Fine Gael in the European Parliament.

“After Fidesz won the Hungarian election earlier this year; Mr. Weber warned people not call Mr. Orban a ‘bad European’. Just last September, Mr. Weber said that European conservatives ‘cannot shut out’ Orban or the Italian right winger, Matteo Silvini.

“Mr. Orban has repeatedly attempted to undermine basic European values, and I believe that Mr. Weber should not be attempting to provide cover for the actions of the Hungarian government. His desire to create an illiberal democracy in Hungary and to spread his bigoted views across Europe is at odds with Irish values.

“Of course I accept that EU political parties must be broadly based and that no grouping is without its share of colourful characters, but support for Mr. Orban is quite clearly beyond the Pale.

“I do not believe that should Mr. Weber become EU Commission President he would be an honest broker is dealing with EU treaty infringements by Mr. Orban and his government.

“The Taoiseach, and the seven other EPP Prime Ministers, should not have backed Weber on this basis, I believe. The EPP will do anything to keep power and it would appear that this includes doing deals with parties and leaders that damage the Union,” concluded Collins.