European Union

Fidesz-allied organisations received contracts worth tens of thousands of euros from the European Parliament

Organisations serving the goals of the ruling party Fidesz were financed by “Brussels” for years. Companies running the think tank Centre for Fundamental Rights or publishing English-language propaganda news site were contracted by the political group of the European People’s Party. Companies tied to the Hungarian opposition were contracted by the S&D party group.

Hungarian organisations widely considered to be closely allied with Fidesz received contracts worth altogether 175 thousand euros from Brussels. These contracts were doled out by the group of the European People’s Party, which is a political faction in the European Parliament. Hungarian governing party Fidesz used to be a member of this grouping.

Contracts awarded by political groups in 2020 and 2021 are published online on the website of the European Parliament (EP). The listings for 2018 and 2019 can also be found by searching on the site. According to the available data, 2020 was the last year organisations allied to Fidesz received contracts from the group of the European People’s Party (EPP). Hungary’s ruling party has left the EPP stable in early 2021. Fidesz MEPs sit with other unaligned members since then.

The relevant part of one list, with the Hungarian organisations highlighted.

Ágoston Mráz, the leader of the Nézőpont group, which has received several such contracts, has told Átlátszó that such business should be seen “in the context that Fidesz was a member of the EPP, and every member party has a say in what the faction buys”.

Political groups with a recognised faction in the EP are financed from the budget of the European Union (EU). Requests for financing of the groups are required to be filed with the EP. Yearly budgets of these factions usually comprise of financing allocated for the current year by the EP, the amount unspent and carried forward from last year’s EP subsidies among other sources.

According to the financial reports of the EPP group, between the years 2018-2020 the vast majority of their budgets came from the EP.

In addition to the EPP, the group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) also contracted companies linked to the hinterground of Hungarian politics. S&D awarded contracts to organisations close to Demokratikus Koalíció (DK), the Hungarian member party of the faction.

“The money for the campaign came directly from Brussels”. Still frame from a video of Fidesz attacking opposition party DK.

Átlátszó has no information that would question the legality of these deals in any way, and therefore no reason why DK-linked organisations would owe an explanation to the public. Fidesz allies contracted by the EPP group are in a different situation, as the government has been waging a political campaign against “Brussels” for years now.

In 2017, the government plastered the country over with posters exclaiming Let’s stop Brussels!, such as the one in the cover photo of this article.

Fidesz politicians regularly attack the opposition and in particular DK that they are financed from abroad, like “Brussels”. In 2016, party official Szilárd Németh accused DK of being “financed from Brussels”. In 2020, Fidesz communications director István Hollik accused that a campaign of DK politician Klára Dobrev was financed from “Brussels”. Fidesz even made a dramatic video to publicize the accusations.

Media controlled by Fidesz regularly apply the same accusations to independent media and NGOs as well. During last December several such media organisations republished an article on Fidesz-allied news site Origo, which accused that “Brussels pays millions to leftist Hungarian propaganda news sites”. In an earlier news programme, the channel TV2 accused that “not only leftist parties, but leftist analysts and media also live off foreign funding. Which could explain why the [Hungarian] Left supports foreign interests and Brussels in several questions”.

Prime Minister’s Political Director on foreign funding of media: it should be transparent – English

After the leading pro-government daily newspaper, Magyar Nemzet wrote that Átlátszó could pose a risk to national security, we wondered what Balázs Orbán, the Prime Minister’s Political Director thought of us. So we asked him at a public event.

A few weeks ago the Fidesz government also attacked the fresh Corruptions Perceptions Index of NGO Transparency International (TI), which ranked Hungary as the worst in the EU. According to the communique, TI’s methodology was wrong, as “it scrutinized neither Brussels bureaucracy, nor the European Parliament”.

Contracts worth tens of thousands of euros to Fidesz allies

Fidesz allies awarded contracts by the EPP group include the organisation running the think tank Centre for Fundamental Rights, the company publishing English-language propaganda news site, and several companies of the Nézőpont group, which is involved in the business of political analysis and advisory.

Átlátszó has reached out for comment to all of them, but only received answers from Nézőpont.

Jogállam és Igazság Nonprofit Kft. received a contract worth 20 thousand euros from the EPP group to provide “research, legal analysis” in 2020. This nonprofit company operated the think tank Centre for Fundamental Rights (AK), which regulary produces public reports supportive of the political positions of Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s government.

AK’s operations used to be funded by smallish donations of the party foundation of Fidesz. These days the Orbán government provides funding magnitudes greater to AK through a special foundation. According to Atlatszo’s information, AK received such funding worth a total of 9.3 million euros between the years 2018-2022.

PM’s Cabinet Office finances government organized NGO through secretive foundation – English

According to contracts and documents seen by Átlátszó, Alapjogokért Központ (Center for Fundamental Rights), a government organized NGO which supplies pro-government talking heads and all-round expertise to media outlets distributing government propaganda, have received nearly 1 billion HUF (cca.

Their personal history link some of the most important leaders of AK to the political hinterground of Fidesz. Miklós Szánthó, who is the owner and CEO of Jogállam és Igazság used to belong to the Youth Christian Democratic Alliance (IKSZ). IKSZ is the youth organisations of Fidesz’s minuscule ally and — technically — coalition partner Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP).

According to a report formerly available online, in 2013 Szánthó travelled to Sofia to attend a congress of the youth organisation of the EPP as a delegate of Fidelitas, which is the youth wing of Fidesz. According to the text, “as a delegate of Fidelitas, IKSZ politician Miklós Szánthó also had the right to vote”.

Up to a million euros was spent on Budapest CPAC, financed by the Hungarian taxpayer – English

The Hungarian host of the Budapest CPAC, which was held in May, received a donation of a million euros from a semi-state foundation, earmarked for holding events, including an „international conference” in 2022. The Center for Fundamental Rights was subsequently also displayed as sponsor of CPAC Dallas.

Other key personnel at AK had even closer dalliances with Fidesz. In 2019, AK strategic director István Kovács unsuccessfully ran on the Fidesz list for a seat in the EP. The weekly Magyar Narancs formerly reported that AK operative director Péter Törcsi used to be a vice president of IKSZ, and in 2013 won a seat in the municipal council of the village Solymár with the support of both Fidesz and KDNP.

In the year AK was contracted, Szánthó wrote an opinion piece on the EPP for Fidesz-allied daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet. The article derisively pointed out that all Fidesz opponents inside the EPP faction “have an official LGBT chapter”, furthermore, “the Christian democratic European party alliance, which has seen better days, was eaten up whole […] by total insanity”.

Even though Szánthó signed his piece as AK’s director, there’s no mention of the contractual relationship between the think tank and the EPP group in the article. Also, there’s no disclosure of the fact that at the time Szánthó was also presiding over the board of Közép-Európai Sajtó és Média Alapítvány (KESMA). This foundation owns the publisher of Magyar Nemzet.

He’s not a president anymore, but, as a member of the three-person board, Szánthó is still involved in directing KESMA. Magyar Nemzet has reported this January that according to other Fidesz allies, Átlátszó “could constitute a national security risk” to Hungary, because of receiving financing from abroad. The news item was republished by several other media under the control of KESMA. Magyar Nemzet also published opinion pieces in January, which accused Átlátszó of “high treason” because of taking part in a European cross-border journalistic project.

Editor-in-Chief of Atlatszo to Media1: “A smear campaign has been launched against us using the methods of Putin’s Russia” – English

Tamás Bodoky, editor-in-chief of Atlatszo, told Media1 that he believes there is a coordinated campaign behind the events of the past few days to attack the investigative nonprofit from actors close to the ruling party Fidesz using the methods of Putin’s Russia.

Another company orbiting Fidesz received contracts worth altogether 135 thousand euros from Brussels. FWD Affairs Kft. was contracted in 2018 for 62 thousand euros and in 2019 for 44 thousand euros to do website maintenance, and in 2020 to provide services relating to “Internet social media” for 29 thousand euros by the EPP group.

FWD Affairs is involved in the strategic communication and advisory business. The company is owned by Patrick Egan, a former Central and Eastern European director of the International Republican Institute, who has found a new home in Budapest. Egan is a US national but has a Hungarian wife. As a former member of Fidesz, Klára Vizér-Egan used to serve as deputy mayor in the municipal council of the 15th district of Budapest.

In 2010, FWD Affairs was involved in the successful run of István Tarlós, who was elected Budapest mayor with the support of Fidesz. The company also provided services to the Orbán government. In 2014, FWD Affairs was contracted by the PM’s Office, and later by the PM’s Cabinet Office to perform various tasks related to government communications. (The PM’s office is the government organ directly under Orbán, whereas the Cabinet Office belongs to the domain of minister Antal Rogán, who is responsible for communication in the Fidesz government).

Átlátszó has formerly reported on FWD Affairs publishing an English-language news site, which is partly funded from public money. Remix can be found at the address Its content is regularly in line with the positions of Fidesz. According to Átlátszó’s information, the Hungarian government provided funding to FWD Affairs worth 390 thousand euros through the same foundation that finances AK.

Hungarian gov’t money, US advisor with Republican ties behind propaganda news site – English

The website Remix provides news in English on Central Europe, with a soft spin much alike Viktor Orbán’s agenda. Behind it, Átlátszó has discovered a foundation run mostly on the money of the Hungarian government, as well as a long line of right-wing US campaign experts advising Fidesz with ties to the Republicans.

During the years its publisher was contracted by the EPP group, Remix published several pieces of content regarding then-current affairs of the faction. Átlátszó has seen no sign that Remix did disclose this relationship to its readers.

Companies belonging to the Nézőpont group were also awarded contracts by the EPP group. Nézőpont Elemzőintézet Nonprofit Kft. was contracted in 2018 to provide the faction with “studies, analysis” for 38 thousand euros. At the time, this company was indirectly owned by Tibor Győri. it was liquidated in 2021. Győri, a former state secretary at the PM’s office was the original founder of the whole Nézőpont group of companies, which is involved in political analysis and advisory.

Kutatópont Kft., since renamed to Nézőpont Intézet Kutató Központ Kft., has also received a contract worth 23 thousand euros to provide “research” to the EPP group. At the time the company was owned by analyst Ágoston Mráz, who has since taken over the whole group.

Nézőpont is usually considered a Fidesz ally since its original foundation. The now defunct weekly Heti Válasz reported earlier that veteran Fidesz politician Tibor Navracsics has played a key role in its inception. A company belonging to the group recently was contracted by the PM’s Cabinet Office to provide media monitoring for what is worth 56.7 million euros.

Let’s stop Brussels! “is not an analytical statement, but a political message”, Mráz told Átlátszó, when asked about the Brussels contracts of Nézőpont, “us analysts, for the nature of our profession, usually speak in a more sophisticated way”.

“It is very important to note that I am not against Europe. I am committed to the European Union if it is a Europe of nations. But on the basis of principle, I deeply believe that the European Union is not authorised for the ongoing, step by step extension of its powers. Which is the strategy of the Brussels elite”, Mráz added.

Opposition-leaning companies contracted by S&D

Companies close to Hungarian opposition party DK were awarded contracts by S&D, a different political group in Brussels. EagleEye-Marketing Kft. was contracted for services related to an “online media campaign” in 2020. News site Telex has formerly reported that the company is a regular supplier of DK.

EagleEye-Marketing CEO Zoltán Páva is involved in the ongoing scandal related to the donations worth 9 million dollars wired from the US to various entities connected to the Hungarian opposition as the owner of propaganda news site Ezalényeg. EaegleEye-Marketing owner István Molnár has a stake in one entity belonging to the Datadat group of companies, which played a central role in the affair.

We’ve solved the Hungarian secret service’s Swiss riddle about the „dollar left” – English

We have found the Swiss foundation that the Hungarian secret service’s National Information Center (NIK) claims in its second „dollar-left” parliamentary briefing, declassified in January, to have sent 887 million forints to the publisher of the “Ezalényeg” propaganda website during last year’s election campaign.

Another company named Telequest Kft. was contracted to provide “research/study on EU health union for more than 22 thousand euros. Formerly, DK politician Csaba Czeglédy held a stake in the company.

Written and translated by Márton Sarkadi Nagy, Hungarian version of this story. Cover photo: government billboard from 2017. The text reads “Let’s stop Brussels!” “But they should keep sending the money, right?”.