In his essay published in The Critic, Balázs Orbán, political director of Prime Minister Orbán explores what led to this controversy and points out four reasons why this proposal resulted in a backlash.
Let’s look at the issue at hand.
In late June, the European Commission submitted a proposal to extend the EU budget by a whopping €98.9 billion, basically admitting that their mismanagement stretched and strained the financial backbone of the Union.
For starters, Orbán points out, looking at the EC’s “rep sheet” since the 2015 migration crisis, the Commission’s ability to handle both internal and external issues is inadequate at best, giving “rise to concerns about the Commission’s capacity to effectively address crucial issues essential to the future of the European Union.”
This is clearly evident in the recent budget proposal, from which Orbán cites four examples that either “raised eyebrows” or simply are a step toward the realm of the absurd.
Firstly, Brussels is asking for another €50 billion for Ukraine “without offering a clear report on the previously allocated 70 billion euros.” The EC here is basically throwing money at a problem instead of trying to promote a lasting solution, purposefully choosing to feed the war machine and prolong the suffering of civilians rather than advocating for peace.
As a second point, Orbán talks about the NextGenerationEU (NGEU) recovery plan, a shared loan scheme at lower interest rates intended to support the economic recovery of post-Covid Europe.
Unfortunately, those “lower interest rates” didn’t stay that low in the current inflationary environment, so the EC is now asking the Member States for €18.9 billion, while simultaneously, “numerous Member States faced restrictions and could only access a limited portion of the funds available.” Adding insult to injury, Hungary and Poland, for political reasons, have not received any financial assistance at all from the NGEU.
It is simply absurd to pay more money into a scheme that has been frozen for us.
Thirdly, the new migration pact, for which the Commission requests €15 billion for a “mandatory relocation” scheme to impose a uniform migration and asylum policy on Europe “under the guise of solidarity,” completely disregards countries like Hungary, which “has been struggling with migration pressure on the forefront for almost a decade and investing close to 2 billion euros in border protection.” Poland also “has hosted millions of Ukrainian refugees.”
Last, but not least, Orbán cites the Commission’s request for nearly €2 billion to address its bureaucratic needs, or to put it more bluntly, to raise their own salaries.
The audacity to ask for a pay raise while most “citizens across the continent are already facing financial hardships due to rising inflation caused by the ongoing war and Brussels’ sanctions policy” is baffling, to say the least.
As Orbán points out, in its current state and with its ongoing conduct, the Commission “runs the risk of deepening internal divisions and becoming a catalyst for disintegration,” as it departs from acting as a “trusted executive.”
Let us hope that the European Commission will readjust its catastrophic trajectory and reaffirms its role as “the guardian of the treaties and a proponent of European unity.”