Hungary plans to veto EU budget and COVID recovery scheme, Poland could follow

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary plans to veto the European Union’s 2021-27 budget and its post-COVID recovery scheme over a proposal to make funding conditional on member states’ adherence to the rule of law, its government spokesman said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 19, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The permanent representatives of EU member states will convene in Brussels on Monday afternoon to discuss the issue. Hungarian news outlet Portfolio reported earlier that the German EU presidency will ask governments to express their political stance on the funding conditionality.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had already sent a letter to EU institutions threatening to veto the budget and Hungary’s lawmakers in July said the government should not accept such conditions in the talks.

Spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Hungary was attending that meeting with a clear mandate from its parliament.

Asked whether that meant Hungary would veto the budget and the Own Resources Decision unless the rule of law conditions are reconsidered, Kovacs said:

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“Your deduction is correct.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist government has been at odds with European partners for years over a perceived erosion of democratic standards, which has sidelined Orban and his Polish allies in the bloc.

The EU’s top forum decided over the summer that it would tie any future fund disbursement to respecting the democratic standards incorporated in the EU’s founding treaty, such as the freedom of courts, the media and education, all of which have come under attack by Orban in recent years.

Orban’s Fidesz party has been suspended by the European People’s Party, the bloc’s conservative umbrella group for right-wing politicians, and the European Parliament has started a procedure to suspend Hungary’s voting rights in the bloc in response to its democratic shortcomings.

The Hungarian leader, who is building a self-styled “illiberal democracy”, has rejected those accusations and accused Brussels of double standards of allowing other countries to do things Hungary is punished for..

Reporting by Marton Dunai and Anita Komuves; Editing by Toby Chopra

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