“We have fought for our rights, we have rejected blackmail and everything that isn’t acceptable for our nations,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at a press conference held with Mateusz Morawiecki, his Polish counterpart, in Brussels late on Thursday.
The European Council on Thursday night accepted the EU’s budget for the 2021-2027 financial cycle and its Next Generation EU recovery fund. Regarding the rule-of-law provision in the document, the summit added a clause stating that the mechanism can only be triggered if a member state’s actions harm EU financial interests.
At the press conference held at the Polish embassy in Brussels after the summit, Orbán said the debate was “not only about the rule-of-law mechanism.” “The EU’s very future was at stake.”
Orbán said that the achievements of the summit served to protect EU unity. “The agreement is a good outcome in terms of Europe’s future, because it has become obvious that the EU can only operate as a community of nations,” the prime minister said.
In the next step, the national parliaments will have to accept the agreement, Orbán said. “We have done our job as best we could,” he said.
The agreement protects the European Treaty by preventing the rule-of-law mechanism from being used for political purposes, he said.
The agreement can only be amended with an unanimous agreement of all member state leaders, he said.
Hungary will exercise its right to bring the rule-of-law mechanism before the European court to see whether it is compatible with EU law, he said.
Morawiecki said the agreement was a joint achievement of the Visegrad Group, and a signal of the four countries’ loyalty to each other. After “hard and stressful talks”, the agreement contains stronger legal guarantees regarding rule-of-law conditionality than the original draft did, he said.
Poland will also take the mechanism before European court, Morawiecki said. Whether the Polish and Hungarian suits will be brought together or separately is yet to be decided, he added.
Orbán: ‘We’ve protected Hungarians’ money’
After a deal was struck on the EU budget and recovery fund at the European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a video on Facebook that “common sense has prevailed: we’ve protected Hungarians’ money.”
Orbán said there had been a last round of negotiations with the Hungarian delegation. “We ran the last lap.”
“Everyone played their last card,” he said, adding that an agreement was struck. “I must say, common sense has prevailed.”
“We won because in hard times, during the epidemic and the economic crisis, there’s no time for ideological or political debates that hold us back from taking action,” he said.
The prime minister said that in the end, European unity had been preserved.
Orbán added, however, that proposals were still on the table that many member states like Hungary would dislike, referring to migration and anti-family measures “planned by Brussels”.
He said there would be disputes ahead, “but today we’ve definitely achieved three things.”
Orbán said Hungary had succeeded in preventing the European basic treaty from being bypassed and from forcing on Hungarians “decisions that we don’t accept”.
The prime minister added that “Hungarian money will also be protected”.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, announced on Twitter that an agreement has been reached on the EU’s multiannual budget and recovery fund at the summit.
Featured photo by Vivien Cher Benko/PM’s Press Office