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Weeklies on suspended EU transfers

June 26th, 2023

Opposition-leaning commentators take it for granted that most of the financial transfers to Hungary will continue to be withheld by the European Union. One pro-government expert also believes that Hungary must prepare for that eventuality.

In a vitriolic Élet és Irodalom editorial, János Széky compares Hungary’s current position to that of the last period of the Roman Republic in antiquity, when power lay in the hands of a single person. Such a ruler, he continues, loathes all limitations to his power, whether from inside or outside. This is why, he suggests, Prime Minister Orbán rails against limitations on Hungary’s sovereignty by the European Union. Széky doesn’t believe that Hungary will leave the European Union, nevertheless, but only because the government can despatch people who become useless or embarrassing to various institutions in Brussels. Otherwise, he finds it probable that Hungary will be deprived of most of the transfers it would be due under normal conditions.

In a highly opinionated column in Heti Világgazdaság, Sándor Révész suspects the government has decided to sacrifice about €30 billion worth of EU transfers (over a seven-year period) rather than fulfil the rule-of-law conditions set by the European Commission. Meanwhile, the liberal columnist believes the European Union has already decided that it will not finance those he calls the ‘usurpers of power’ in Hungary, since it cannot finance the country without financing them as well. He is convinced that those whom he now calls ‘Hungary’s plunderers’ have already forgotten about that money. The reason, he writes, is that by fulfilling the conditions that come with those transfers they would set limitations to their own power.

In an interview with Demokrata, veteran World Bank economist Károly Lóránt thinks that Hungary will eventually get most of the EU transfers, except for the post-Covid Recovery and Resilience Fund – the only one which the Commission uses ‘to blackmail Hungary, under pressure from the European Parliament’. He accuses the European Commission of holding back resources in an attempt to topple the Hungarian government. To avoid such traps, he urges Hungarian leaders to prepare for a future in which Hungary will have to finance its growth mainly from her own resources.

By contrast, Mandiner carries a highly EU-friendly column by the cabinet minister in charge of the negotiations with the Union on financial transfers. Tibor Navracsics dispels misgivings in the European Parliament about Hungary taking over the rotating presidency of the Union a year from now. He argues that key current cabinet ministers were already part of the government 12 years ago when Hungary successfully fulfilled the rotating presidency for half a year for the first time. Led by the most experienced head of government within the European Union, he writes, the Hungarian team which will grapple with the challenges of European integration next year will be one that has already resolved difficult conflicts in the past.

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