Hungary & Poland uphold veto on EU budget and recovery fund – Budapest

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday that Budapest and Warsaw are upholding their veto of the European Union’s budget and a coronavirus recovery fund, though the EU may try to bypass their decision.

Szijjarto made the statement after meeting his Polish counterpart in Brussels on Monday.

“We have affirmed that we stand by each other,” the Hungarian minister said in a Facebook video. “We will not give room to any effort aiming to break up this cooperation.”

After the EU criticized both states for undermining judicial and media independence, Warsaw and Budapest blocked the budget and its linked recovery fund, insisting that the allocation of finances should not be conditional on member states’ respect for the rule of law and democratic norms.

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The EU will wait until Tuesday for Poland and Hungary to drop their veto before considering other options, according to media reports. “We need to have an agreement by Hungary and Poland by today or tomorrow at the latest. If we don’t, we will have to move to scenario B,” an EU diplomat told Reuters on Monday.

This back-up plan could include setting up the EU’s €750 billion recovery fund of grants and loans for only 25 member states to support their economies amid the coronavirus crisis, leaving Hungary and Poland out of the mix. The seven-year €1.1 trillion budget would remain blocked, however, though the EU could use a provisional budget in 2021 as a stop-gap.

French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune confirmed late last week that Brussels may leave the two states out of the economic recovery plan. “We will not sacrifice either the recovery or the rule of law,” Beaune told the Journal du Dimanche. “There is no question of reviewing the mechanism which links the two.”

Szijjarto defended the firm stance on Saturday, noting on Facebook that Poles and Hungarians “have fought for our freedom against dictatorships” and supported “European unity.”

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