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Tug-of-war over EU funding

December 12th, 2022

A left-wing columnist accuses the Hungarian government of trying to unlock EU funding by threatening to veto key EU decisions. A pro-government analyst, on the other hand, accuses the EU of blackmailing Hungary.

On Tuesday, EU Finance Ministers postponed the decision on Hungary’s suspended EU funding. On Friday, in an updated report on Hungarian rule of law progress, the European Commission acknowledged that since 9 November (when the Hungarian report was submitted) Hungary has made progress. The Commission added, however, that it needs to do more to meet the anti-corruption conditions and thus to get access to the full amount of the withheld EU funding. The final decision on Hungarian EU funds will be made by the Council of the European Union later in December. According to various media reports, Hungary may get access to the EU funds if it approves the collective EU loan to help Ukraine, as well as the introduction of the global minimum tax.

In Népszava, Tamás Rónay fears that the government’s staunch rejection of the EU loan to support Ukraine weakens its chances of unblocking EU funds and therefore harms the country’s interests. The left-wing commentator accuses the government of trying to blackmail the EU by threatening vetos unless the suspension of its EU cohesion funds is lifted. Rónay notes that this creates a difficult situation for EU members, as they want to punish Hungary but they are also hesitant to escalate the conflict.

On the website of the XXIst Century Institute think tank Dániel Deák, believes that the tug of war over Hungary’s EU funding is a tough political game rather than a dispute over rule of law criteria. The pro-government blogger accuses the EU of blackmailing Hungary by demanding the approval of the global minimum tax and the loan to be taken up by the EU to subsidize Ukraine, in exchange for unlocking Hungary’s EU funding. Deák is optimistic that the Council of the EU will strike a deal, as the freezing of the EU funding would be undesirable for both Hungary and the EU.

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