Hungary says it blocked the EU budget over migration blackmail

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Wednesday that his country had vetoed the EU budget over plans to link funding to respect for the rule of law, as it constituted “blackmailing” countries opposed to migration.

Hungary and Poland on Monday blocked the approval of the EU’s long-term budget and rescue of coronavirus – a € 1.8 trillion package – and threw the bloc into a political crisis.

“In Brussels today, they only see countries that admit migrants as those governed by the rule of law,” Orban said in a statement.

“Once this proposal has been adopted, there will be no further obstacles to linking Member States’ share of common funds in support of migration and (to) the use of financial resources to blackmail countries that oppose migration,” he said.

Warsaw and Budapest oppose EU funding being linked to respect for the rule of law and their envoys vetoing any decision to proceed – effectively blocking the bloc’s coronavirus recovery strategy.

EU leaders believed they had resolved disputes over the seven-year EU budget and associated stimulus plan at a four-day marathon meeting in July.

Since then, they have resolved disagreements with the European Parliament on spending priorities, and the EUR trillion budget and the € 750 billion stimulus package are ready for approval.

But Poland and Hungary remain unchanged at linking their future funding to Brussels’ ruling on whether their spending is in line with EU law.

“In the migration-related debates in recent years, the rule of law has shifted to a political and ideological weapon from a legal point of reference,” Orban said.

“Without objective criteria and the possibility of redress, no procedure aimed at punishing Member States should be based on it,” he said.

“In our view, it would be a serious mistake to link economic and financial issues to political debates, one that would undermine the unity of Europe,” he added.