Hungary insists on EU budget and rule of law criteria to be separate: PM

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary still cannot accept a clause on respecting the rule of law attached to the European Union’s budget and coronavirus recovery fund, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday, adding the political rules should be dealt with separately.

© Reuters/Zoltan Fischer
FILE PHOTO: Hungarian PM Orban and Polish PM Morawiecki meet in Budapest

FILE PHOTO: Gergely Gulyas, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff speaks during an interview in his office in Budapest

He added that an explanatory declaration attached to the regulations, which prompted a senior Polish government member to say Poland might accept the package, would be unacceptable to Budapest.

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“For us this solution, attaching some statement like a reminder on a sticky note attached on a piece of paper, it won’t work,” Orban told public radio. “Hungary insists that these two things should be separated.”

Hungary and Poland have blocked the EU’s seven-year budget and its post-crisis development fund for weeks, stopping 1.85 trillion euros ($2.25 trillion) worth of funds from reaching member states, some hurting for cash amid an economic crisis.

Budapest and Warsaw, which have been criticised for years for perceived backsliding on democratic standards, have said they would act and vote together on the rule of law issue, and Orban said he would stick to that agreement.

He said there was no rush to get an agreement on the EU budget this year, adding if the EU does not have an agreement by January, it will have one later.

“Leave the legal status quo unchanged and everything will go smoothly and quickly,” he said.

(Reporting by Marton Dunai and Krisztina Than; Editing by Sam Holmes and Alex Richardson)

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