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16 Nov, 2020 12:52

Hungary threatens to veto 7-year EU budget & post-Covid recovery fund amid spat over rule of law

Hungary threatens to veto 7-year EU budget & post-Covid recovery fund amid spat over rule of law

Hungary is ready to veto the European Union’s 2021-2027 budget fund over the condition that countries can only receive money from the EU if they observe the rule of law. And Poland could follow suit.

The permanent representatives of EU member states will discuss the issue in Brussels on Monday, and Hungary is attending the meeting “with a clear mandate from its parliament,” government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said. Asked whether Budapest could veto the budget and the post-Covid-19 recovery scheme unless the conditions are reconsidered, he said the suggestion was “correct.”

Kovacs earlier described the rule of law conditionality as a new instrument in the hands of the European Parliament’s “liberal, pro-migration majority to blackmail and pressure dissenting member states to fall in line.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban already threatened to veto the €1.8 trillion long-term EU budget in a letter to the bloc’s institutions, while lawmakers in Budapest said in July that the government should not accept such conditions.

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A provisional deal struck by European Parliament and European Council negotiators on November 5 allowed Brussels for the first time to link EU funds to respect for the rule of law.

However, Hungary’s justice minister, Judit Varga, said at the time that if the European Parliament “cannot help in the fight against Covid and restarting [the] EU’s economy, at least it should stop the political and ideological blackmail of member states.”

The EU has clashed with Hungary over immigration, the rights of media and non-governmental organizations, and a draft legislation banning adoption by same-sex couples. Brussels has also slammed Poland over its policies toward the independence of the judiciary and “LGBT-free zones.”

Poland should also veto the EU budget if the funding is tied to rule of law conditions, its justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, said on Monday.

“Now is the decisive moment for what will happen in Europe,” he said, adding that the move could “block this political project designed to limit Poland’s sovereignty.” Ziobro believes that, like Orban, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will use this right.

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