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PM Orbán’s talks in Brussels

May 3rd, 2018

As Prime Minister Orbán meets the leaders of the European People’s Party, a left-wing columnist believes that European conservatives may reprimand PM Orbán for his illiberal policies. A pro-government commentator dismisses such speculation, and calls on the EU not to punish Hungary and Poland by limiting their access to cohesion funds.

Népszava’s György Sebes suspects that the leadership of the European People’s Party will criticize PM Orbán’s illiberal policies. The left-wing commentator believes that many conservative MEPs are worried about the Hungarian government policies, most importantly about what he calls the weakening of the rule of law and infringements on basic rights. Sebes also predicts that even if Viktor Orbán is criticized by his conservative fellows in Europe, the pro-government media will deny any skirmish between him and the European People’s Party.

In Magyar Hírlap, Sándor Faggyas interprets the Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels as an indication that the Hungarian Prime Minister is recognised as an important politician on the European level. The pro-government columnist recalls that Mr Orbán is on good personal terms with EPP Chairman Joseph Daul and Manfred Weber, the EPP floor leader in the European Parliament, which makes it unlikely that they will criticize the Hungarian Prime Minister’s policies. In a comment on the EU cohesion fund distribution plans for 2021-2027 leaked by the Financial Times, Faggyas hopes that the EU leadership will soon table a revised draft. According to a Financial Times report, the EU leadership is considering linking access to EU funds to respect for basic democratic norms and independent courts. The Financial Times interpreted the draft proposal as a measure to punish Poland and Hungary for their illiberal policies. Faggyas complains that EU cohesion funds are not gifts, but part of the EU integration deal, and they do not only serve the interest of less developed countries, but also of Western European firms which invest in Poland and Hungary.

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