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Oct 16, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

MoJ Varga in Brussels: Finnish EU budget proposal unacceptable to Hungary

Unlike some of the previous efforts, which were directed solely at Hungary, the Finnish government is now set on withdrawing funds from a number of EU member states. Minister of Justice Judit Varga attended the General Affairs Council meetings on Tuesday where ministers discussed the Finnish presidency’s budget proposal. She had a few choice words following the meeting.

The Finnish EU presidency's budget proposal for the next seven-year cycle is unacceptable to Hungary, Justice Minister Judit Varga said plainly on Tuesday. Her comments followed the meeting of EU ministers at the General Affairs Council in Brussels.

One of Hungary's key concerns, according to the minister, was that the proposal would further reduce the amount available for cohesion within the development budget. Hungary’s stance was supported by several like-minded member states who argued that the budget failed to reflect their proposals and that the authors of the budget did not take into account the request of the group of states called ‘friends of cohesion."

Instead of moving the process forward, Varga said that this proposal will also simply delay any final budget, as it only takes into account the interests of net contributor countries while hurting the interests of several other member states whose input has not been considered at all.

Addressing other concerns related to the Finnish budget proposal, Minister Varga stressed that Hungary cannot accept that cohesion payments are tied to “rule of law criteria” and spent on the settlement of immigrants.

During an official visit of Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne in Budapest earlier this month, Prime Minister Orbán reminded him that for Hungary, a country that was under communist rule for 40 years, the rule of law is a matter of honor. “When they question the rule of law, they step on our honor,” PM Orbán said.

And this gets particularly interesting if Finland, the EU member state that has been strident in its criticism, fails to meet its own set of criteria in the first place.

It’s that time again, I guess, when we should have a candid conversation about Finland: I’ll bet there are a few things about Finland that you were not aware of before.