Hungary Says Veto EU Budget, COVID Recovery Scheme Over Funding Condition

Nellie Chapman
November 17, 2020

The financial package includes €750bn for a coronavirus recovery fund.

Both nations followed through on their recent warnings they would block the budget proposal, including a €750 billion coronavirus rescue package, over their concerns that a "rule of law" provision would interfere with their domestic judiciary systems.

European Union states had already agreed on the €1.1tn (£987bn;.3tn) budget for 2021-2027, and the coronavirus stimulus package after a marathon four-day summit in July.

The opposition to the "rule of law" measure by Hungary and Poland had been sparked by the EU's investigation into the independence of courts, non-governmental organizations and the media in both countries.

Ambassadors of the 27 member states meeting in Brussels were unable to endorse the budget because the two countries vetoed it.

They had also worked hard to smooth over differences with the European Parliament over spending priorities.

Hungary and Poland have been criticised for violating democratic standards enshrined in the EU's founding treaty.

Viktor Orban, right, Prime Minister of Hungary and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki attend a news conference on September 11, 2020.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's press chief Bertalan Havasi said Monday that Orban had written a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel saying he would veto the budget and post-pandemic relief package.

In Warsaw, Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland's Justice Minister said this was "the decisive moment for what will happen in Europe. when Poland can declare a veto".

"It is really an institutional, political enslavement, a radical limitation of sovereignty", he said.

"It's not about rule of law, which is only a pretext, a lovely word that goes nicely in the ear, but it is really about institutional, political enslavement, (and) a radical limitation of sovereignty", Ziobro said.

But a group of countries led by the Netherlands as well as the European Parliament wanted an even stronger link and have said they would not approve the budget without it.

The European Parliament and the Council representing the EU27 reached a preliminary deal on linking the disbursement of EU funds to rule of law after five rounds of talks, clearing a major hurdle in the wider negotiations on the bloc's budget.

"Denying the whole of Europe crisis funding in the worst crisis since decades is irresponsible", Manfred Weber, who heads the biggest group in the European Parliament said on Twitter.

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