Authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Hungary is still unable to accept the rule of law standards linked to the European Union’s budget and the Coronavirus Recovery Fund. He said political rules on respect for the rule of law should be treated separately.
He warned that the explanatory declaration attached to the regulations, which prompted a senior member of the Polish government to say that Poland might accept the package, would be unacceptable to Budapest.
“For us this solution, by attaching some phrases like a reminder on a sticky note attached to a piece of paper, will not work,” Urban said.
“Hungary insists that these two matters should be separated.”
His warning comes as the European Union remains caught in a long-running battle with Poland and Hungary after they vetoed the bloc’s 1.6 trillion (1.8 trillion euros) budget for seven years, in addition to 671 billion pounds (750 billion euros) to recover from Corona Virus.
The two countries oppose plans to enforce rule of law over money disbursements.
Hungary and Poland halted the seven-year EU budget and post-crisis development fund for weeks, and stopped 1.6 trillion pounds (1.8 trillion euros) of funds from reaching member states, some of them hurting cash amid an economic crisis.
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The Hungarian and Polish governments have regularly come under fire for their records of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and repeated attempts to interfere with the judiciary.
After Mr Orban and Polish President Andrzej Duda used their veto power against the budget, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that the bloc might take the case to the courts.
She said, “We think the conditionality mechanism is appropriate. It is proportionate, it is necessary. It is hard to imagine that anyone would object.”
“ But if someone has legal doubts, there is a very clear path, and they can go to the European Court of Justice, and this is where we usually bring up differences of opinion on legal tests, not at the expense of millions of Europeans who are desperately waiting for our help, because we are in the middle of Deep and deep crisis. “
This comes after Orban’s Chief of Staff warned that the Brussels budget and the Coronavirus Recovery Fund could not go into effect without Hungary’s approval and that Budapest could not accept the proposal in its current form on Thursday.
Girjeli Gulias said that Hungary is open to further negotiations but has the right to veto, and if the current European Union proposal linking access to funds with the condition respecting the rule of law is maintained, “there will be no agreement.”
Hungarians are deeply divided, with nearly half of voters supporting Orban’s explanation that the European Union wants to impose lax immigration regulations in Budapest, according to a poll conducted by think-tank Median earlier this week.
Median said only about a third blamed the crisis on flaws in Hungary’s rule of law. The same poll showed that 85 percent still support EU membership.
Critics say Orban, who campaigned on a nationalist anti-immigration platform, systematically undermined democratic rights during his decade in power, weakening the independence of the media, education and science, and suppressing NGOs.
The Hungarian government denied the accusations.
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