A year later, Viktor Orbán is once again blackmailing the EU and threatening to block the European Council at the end of the year, a situation that is especially worrying this time due to the blow it would mean for Ukraine, which hopes that the 27 will give the green light to the opening of accession negotiations. For weeks, the EU has been trying to court Orbán. The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, traveled to Budapest to meet with him; Emmanuel Macron invited him to Paris, Pedro Sánchez telephoned him… But the European Commission has gone from words to actions, which has unlocked 10.2 billion euros that it had in the freezer due to the authoritarian drift in the country.
Brussels’ decision, which had already prepared the ground, became effective this Wednesday, just twelve hours before the start of the marathon summit in which European leaders want to give approval to the progress of enlargement – with the opening of negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova – and also approve the review of the Multiannual Financial Framework, which is a thorny issue for everyone, beyond the ‘no’ advanced by Orbán.
In the European Commission they maintain that “there has been significant progress” regarding the situation of the Hungarian judicial system that allows the country to be handed over 10,200 of the 22,000 million that it has blocked for that reason. The rest of the funds will remain frozen because Hungary still has pending work on matters such as asylum, academic freedom or the minor protection law, which set off alarm bells in Brussels due to the violation of LGTBI rights.
The EU has also recently approved Hungary’s recovery plan – a decision that was not unanimous at the meeting of economy ministers, as three abstained – along with twelve other member states. The step involves the automatic unlocking of 900 million euros in pre-financing that goes directly to the public coffers of Budapest, which will only have to return the money if it does not meet the objectives agreed with Brussels.
But the gestures towards Hungary do not appear to have generated any change in the position of Orbán, whose chief of staff, Balaz Orbán, has put a price on support for Ukraine. Specifically, 30,000 million euros in exchange for supporting the plan in which the rest of the 26 members of the EU agree to financially support Ukraine until 2027 with 50,000 million euros (17,000 in aid and 33,000 in loans) to through the review of the Multiannual Financial Framework. According to Bloomberg, the prime minister’s chief of staff was open to accepting that proposal as long as the European Commission unlocks the nearly 22 billion that remain in the freezer.
Brussels’ decision is controversial. The majority groups in the European Chamber (EPP, socialists, liberals and greens) have sent a letter to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in which they demanded that she not release the funds after the community government had raided the road in recent weeks. “It is impossible to analyze whether the National Judicial Council will be independent not only on paper but also in its composition. Until this is the case, all the reforms that reinforce their competence could be null,” the MEPs warn in their letter, advanced by the EFE Agency, about the elections for the governing body of judges, which will be held on December 10. January.
But the European Commission had previously done the work of analyzing the judicial reform and has unblocked the funds related to it at the moment in which the latest law was published in the Hungarian official gazette and also coinciding with the European Council in the that Orbán threatens to block all policy regarding Ukraine, including the opening of accession negotiations.
After the meeting of EU foreign ministers this Monday, in which the Ukrainian Dmitro Kuleba participated in person, who assured that Ukraine has already complied with three of the four conditions that Brussels set for it to formally open negotiations, Hungary again rejected all hope to the ground. “The European Commission’s analysis and assessment that Ukrainians have already met 4 of the 7 preconditions for accession is simply not true. That is a false statement,” said Minister Péter Szijjártó.
Orbán has reiterated in public, in private, on social networks or by letter his opposition to the opening of negotiations with Ukraine. Through the social network ”.
“The Hungarian Government will do everything possible to protect the rights of the Hungarian community in Ukraine,” he stated in a letter in which he accused the European Commission of “inadequate preparation” of the process that, paradoxically, falls on the Hungarian commissioner, Olivier. Várhelyi, who is responsible for the Neighborhood portfolio. “Talking to the prime ministers of the member states is not a role for commissioners,” he responded to the question of whether he had spoken to Orbán to get him to support the Brussels proposal. “But we would like the European Council to follow the recommendations we have made,” he added.