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Oct 01, 2020

PM Orbán ahead of EU summit: If debates about the rule of law delay the establishment of the emergency fund, it's possible to make intergovernmental deals

In a statement to MTI earlier today, before taking off to the EU's upcoming summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made it clear that if the debate about tying the rule of law to EU finances would delay the establishment of the coronavirus emergency fund, then it is possible to make intergovernmental deals, outside the EU framework.

The prime minister said that he expects to hold negotiations on the decision made over the summer to establish a significant emergency fund — beyond the usual seven-year budget — to assist European economies in the wake of the coronavirus. There is a heated debate right now about tying access to this fund to rule of law concerns, PM Orbán said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister continued, the position of the Hungarian government is that “Europe is currently in crisis, and we must manage this crisis. This is why we should make this fund available for member states as soon as possible, instead of slowing it down with debates about the rule of law.” The PM added that the intention to tie rule of law to EU finances is “poorly timed.”

However, should these debates stand in the way of launching the Next Generation fund, European countries still have the possibility of creating it in an intergovernmental manner, outside the EU framework. This way, PM Orbán explained, the fund could be free from debates within the EU, and countries in need would gain access to the package much sooner.

Turning to other potential topics of the EU summit, PM Orbán said that there are predominantly foreign policy topics on the agenda, including the EU-Turkey relationship, long-term cooperation with China, and the joint response to the Belarusian situation. Pertaining to Belarus, PM Orbán revealed, the Visegrád Group has its own initiative: It would like to help them with a package similar to the Marshall Plan.

Regarding his recent letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asking for the immediate resignation of Vice President Věra Jourová, Prime Minister Orbán said that he hasn't received a reply yet, but he expects to get one now in Brussels.

“The Hungarian position is unchanged: According to EU law, the members of the European Commission, including Věra Jourová, must remain impartial and objective. This means that she must not speak disrespectfully about a member state and its people. No EU representative will be allowed to use a disrespectful tone with the Hungarian people,” PM Orbán said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán pointed out that double standards must be avoided: If Jourvá had adopted a similar tone with the Germans or the French, “we could be sure she would not have stayed in her office for a single minute,” because the Germans and the French would not have tolerated her tone. And if it is not allowed for EU officials to speak disrespectfully to the French and the Germans, then it should not be allowed for them to speak disrespectfully to the Hungarians. “We will continue to insist on our position,” the PM concluded.