EPP leader Manfred Weber confirmed that even though Viktor Orbán would like a great amount of money from the EU’s coronavirus recovery package, but without complying with the rule of law, the European Parliament will not allow him to use the money, leftist daily Népszava reports, quoting a Spiegel article. This was also stated by Charles Michel, President of the European Council in an interview with Euronews. He said that payments from the EU budget are linked to the rule of law, but the details of this have yet to be worked out.
After nearly 50 hours of negotiations at the European Union summit held from July 17- 21 with the participation of 27 countries, an agreement on the EU’s coronavirus recovery package and new budget was finally born. The rule of law criteria that the Hungarian government sought to leave out eventually stayed in a diluted form, however, the Hungarian Prime Minister was still glad with the result.
In the end, the final statement was ambiguous on the issue of the rule of law, it only includes the importance of protecting the financial interests of the Union. In the event of a breach, however, “the European Commission will propose measures to the European Council by qualified majority. The European Council will return to the matter as a matter of urgency.”
Referring to this section, the position of the Hungarian government is that the rule of law has been separated from the budget, and the criticisms of Fidesz regarding the state of rule of law in Hungary cannot be grounds for the deduction of funds.
Nonetheless, the European Parliament insists that the Union may refuse payments in the event of problems with the rule of law. The head of the European Council, Charles Michel, says that there will definitely be a rule of law mechanism in the next budget. The Belgian politician spoke about this in an interview with Euronews in Brussels, saying that “there is a link between the EU budget, the money in the recovery fund, and the rule of law. We will now work with the European Parliament and the Member States on how to put this decision into practice. It will not be easy, there are more interpretations at the moment. But I am sure we will find a solution.”
Manfred Weber, the leader of the EPP faction in the European Parliament, also confirmed that even though Viktor Orbán wants money from the coronavirus recovery package, but does not guarantee compliance with the rule of law, the European Parliament will not allow it.
The politician noted that Orbán is a tough partner and he regrets that at the EU summit in July, the heads of state and government bowed after the Hungarian prime minister “blackmailed” them with not accepting the rescue package. He added that the EUR 750 billion waiting to be distributed is such an amount that it must be ensured that some of it does not fall into the wrong hands.
featured photo: illustration, a previous video conference, Charles Michel and Viktor Orbán (MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda)