Hungary says it blocked European Union budget over migration 'blackmail'

Clay Curtis
November 20, 2020

Euractiv reports his Wednesday remarks, when he said: "Some political groups... are openly threatening to use the instrument wrongly called "rule of law" in order to discipline individual EU Member States through a majority vote..."

Hungary's prime minister on Wednesday called the European Union's proposed mechanism to link the rule of law to budget disbursements for EU nations a "political and ideological weapon", claiming it was created to blackmail and punish countries that reject immigration.

Poland and Hungary are under a formal European Union process investigating them for undermining the independence of courts, media and non-governmental organisations, which puts them at risk of losing access to European Union funding if the rule of law mechanism is adopted.

The budget is supposed to take effect on January 1.

Jansa is a close ally of nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and has mimicked Orban's hardline rhetoric on migration.

Senior European diplomats, however, have said there is no way the other countries will agree to relaxing the rule of law condition.

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"After accepting the current proposal there would be no barrier from tying the disbursement of funds to member states to supporting immigration, and blackmail the countries that oppose immigration with budgetary sanctions", Orban said in the statement published by state news agency MTI.

Hungary's justice minister - on whose brief much of these debates fall - accused Brussels of "double standards" in its discussions of the kinds of "rule of law" claims made as a justification of these rule changes.

Orban said Hungary was committed to the rule of law, but added: "Those who defend their borders and defend their countries against immigration can no longer be classified as law-abiding in Brussels".

"Mechanisms based not on independent judgment but on politically motivated criteria can not be called "rule of law", Jansa said in the letter, Slovenian public broadcaster RTV Slo reported.

Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa criticised the language of the new rules, which are generally couched in relatively emotive terms painting opponents as being anti-democratic, or anti-rule of law.

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