Brussels · WhyThe European Union is running out of patience with Hungary's far-right, Eurosceptic Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán. The European bloc has moved from conciliatory tone and good manners to threats. If the Hungarian leader again blocks the delivery of an additional €50 billion in financial aid to Ukraine, Brussels and member states are warning him that he will not emerge unscathed. According to an internal council document revealed Financial TimesBrussels will consider cutting off European funding to Budapest, and in addition, the option of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty to withdraw the right to vote is gaining strength.
These two ways to circumvent Orbán's blockade, which will be on the table at Thursday's European summit in Brussels, have not been explored. But all European partners – with the exception of Hungary – insist that more aid must be sent to Kiev urgently. either way. The heads of state and government of Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and others warned in a joint letter that “we will consider all options.”
In order to convince him, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with the Hungarian leader before the meeting. This was announced by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on social media. “The countdown to the summit has begun,” the community leader tweeted. “Informal conversation,” Orbán added.
But the Hungarian president does not budge, remains steadfast in his position, and exploits this to play the victim in front of his voters. “Brussels has been waging an ideological war against Hungary for years and has not stopped blackmailing us. Now we have the documents to prove it,” Orban wrote on social media.
On the other hand, around the institutions, which when there is a summit are surrounded by a police cordon, there are hundreds of farmers protesting against the actions of the European Union and, in their opinion, the excessive environmental regulation that should deal with the primary sector. In fact, the security services of the European institutions have warned that access to the meeting of the 27 Heads of State and Government may be complicated by the protest, which begins at 11 a.m. in front of the European Parliament, on Luxembourg Square, and will head to the facade of the main building of the Brussels Council where the summit is being held.
In fact, the agricultural sector has been demonstrating across the European Union for weeks, especially in countries such as France, Germany and Poland. And this Thursday, they intend to focus their discontent in the community's capital, precisely on the same day that the top representatives of the Twenty-Seven meet. Although the main topic of the meeting was aid to Ukraine, the farmers' protests somehow managed to make it onto the agenda. “We need to discuss it in this Council because the concerns are very legitimate. Climate transition is a key priority for our communities and we need farmers as allies,” said Alexander De Croo, the Prime Minister of Belgium. The country that holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.
European money is key in negotiations
The blackmail that Orban criticizes is that Brussels, in his opinion, spends or withholds what it deems appropriate from the European funds allocated to Budapest and not in accordance with the established standards, which have to do with respect for the rule of law. In fact, on the eve of the last European summit, the Commission paid part of these funds to the Hungarian government, which finally allowed the start of Ukraine's accession negotiations to the European Union.
The group's executive authority denies any relationship between the two matters and confirms that, as always, it took into account the progress in democracy and separation of powers in Budapest, although the non-governmental organization Transparency International places Hungary as the most corrupt country in Europe. The Union in 2023 gave it the same score in terms of the rule of law as the previous year.
In this regard, according to the internal document of the Council that he reviewed Financial TimesBrussels suggests that if Orban does not give in to pressure from other European partners, he may choose to freeze European funding with the aim of weakening “the labor market and economic growth”, its currency and investor confidence. Community sources confirm that it is merely an internal document and take weight from it.
The European Union is already late in providing aid to Ukraine
Various heads of state and government insisted during these days leading up to the European summit that Ukraine can no longer wait for support coming to it from the European Union, especially at a time when American aid to Kiev looms in the air. In fact, the German Chancellor himself, Olaf Scholz, and many European leaders have already criticized that some partners are not allocating all the military aid requested of them and that the 27 countries have not been able, for example, to provide all the military aid. The ammunition they promised to send.
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