Ratification of Brussels summit agreement next ʼdifficult obstacleʼ, Orbán says

EU

Alessia Pierdomenico / Shutterstock.com

The ratification of an agreement reached at a European Union summit on Thursday on the next EU budget and recovery fund is the next "difficult obstacle", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki late yesterday evening, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

Viktor Orbán (Image by Alessia Pierdomenico / Shutterstock.com)

"We have reached our targets," Orbán said regarding the outcome of a summit in Brussels on Thursday where European Union leaders debated attaching conditions to payouts from the EU budget and recovery fund. He added that he could not remember any negotiations "as tense and strong" as those on Thursday at any time during his 30-year political career. 

According to MTI, a provision included in the agreement reached by the heads of the EU member states on Thursday allows a rule of law mechanism to be triggered only if a member stateʼs measures violate the EUʼs financial interests.

"[German Chancellor] Angela Merkel said clearly that this is only one step, there is still one more difficult obstacle, and this is the ratification of that agreement by the national parliaments," he said.

"If anybody would like to criticize or accuse us or to trigger a mechanism like that must identify a concrete breach of certain financial regulations. This mechanism we have created today cannot be used for political targets," Orbán noted.

"We could say, modestly, of course, that we saved the unity of the Union," he claimed.

"Donʼt forget that this dispute was not only about the rule of law...and financial issues, it was about the future of the European Union. And the question was: what is the power center of the European Union? The European institutions, like the Parliament or the Commission, or the member states? And today we delivered evidence that the European Union is nothing else, just the community and alliance of the nations and the states, and nobody can circumvent the intentions and the will of the elected governments of any nation, neither the European Parliament nor the Commission," the PM added.

Orbán acknowledged Morawieckiʼs leadership of the Visegrád Group at the talks in Brussels on Thursday as well as at a marathon summit in July. Morawiecki also thanked Orbán.

Orbán said Hungary would contest the rule of law mechanismʼs compliance with EU law at the Court of Justice of the EU. Morawiecki said Poland would also seek the CJEUʼs opinion on whether the mechanism violates the EU Treaties. He added that a decision on whether to file the action separately or jointly had not yet been taken.

Reactions by EU politicians

President of the European Council Charles Michel praised the compromise reached, tweeting that, "Now we can start with the implementation and build back our economies. Our landmark recovery package will drive forward our green & digital transitions."

"This is an important win for the rule of law and the EU," said Petri Sarvamaa, MEP, according to a report by The New York Times. "The Parliament or the Council did not give up to threats."

"You cannot save the rule of law by breaking the law," Renew Europe MEP Guy Verhofstadt said on Twitter, criticizing the deal. "The instructions given to the Commission in the draft Council conclusions on RoL are violating art. 17.3 TEU, which guarantees the autonomy and competences of the Commission."

According to a report by Politico, some leaders such as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte sought additional legal and political assurances about the agreement reached but ultimately declared themselves satisfied on Thursday.

Hungarian MEP Anna Donáth (a member of Hungarian opposition party Momentum) argued that the compromise reached was not a success for Orbán, tweeting that "#Orbán & #Morawiecki may try to use tricks to delay the process, but facts remain: they failed to block it. Meanwhile, 25 MS agree: EU funds must ASAP be subject to #RuleOfLaw conditionality & support ppl & businesses, not cement corrupt hybrid systems."

MEP István Ujhelyi (member of Hungarian opposition party MSZP) also claimed that Orbán failed to reach his goals, tweeting "#Orban claims victory but he hit the post and lost. #RuleofLaw criteria will enter into force. Criminal blackmail failed, #hypocrisy revealed again. Only money and #power - and #nothingelsematters."

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