European Union considers sabotaging Hungary’s economy


The European Union is considering ceasing all funding to Hungary if Prime Minister Viktor Orbán does not agree to lift his veto on the bloc’s provision of military aid to Kiev at a summit scheduled to take place on February 1 in Brussels, according to the Financial Times newspaper. The threat comes after European Council President Charles Michel ended his plans to step down to cynically ensure that Orbán does not preside over European Union summits.

In December 2023, Hungary vetoed the expansion of the EU budget for 2024-2027 to accommodate 50 billion euros in macro-financial aid to Ukraine. At the time, Michel told journalists that he expected EU leaders to unanimously approve financial aid to Ukraine in early 2024, with the next EU summit scheduled for February 1.

According to a document accessed by the Financial Times, Brussels outlined a strategy to attack Hungary’s economic weaknesses, put its currency at risk and cause a collapse in investor confidence in an attempt to harm employment and the country’s economic growth so that Budapest would reconsider its decision not to provide EU funds to Ukraine.

The document seen by FT declares that “in the case of no agreement in the February 1 [summit], other heads of state and government would publicly declare that in the light of the unconstructive behaviour of the Hungarian PM… they cannot imagine that” EU funds would be provided to Budapest.

Without that funding, “financial markets and European and international companies might be less interested to invest in Hungary,” the document says, adding that such measures “could quickly trigger a further increase in the cost of financing the public deficit and a decline in the local currency.”

Furthermore, according to the newspaper, the EU Council document exposed Hungary’s economic vulnerabilities, including its very high public deficit, inflation, weak currency, and the highest debt payments as a proportion of GDP in the EU. The document also highlights that Hungary’s jobs and growth depend to a large extent on foreign financing, which is based on high levels of EU financing.

Hungarian Minister for EU Affairs János Bóka told the newspaper that Budapest sent a new proposal to Brussels on January 27 to reach a consensus, saying the government was now open to using the EU budget to aid Ukraine if other clauses were added that would give Budapest the opportunity to change its decision later. Bóka added that if the attempt to reach a consensus failed, Budapest would prefer Hungary’s initial proposal to create a separate fund for Ukraine outside the EU budget.

Western countries, including EU member states, have been providing financial and military aid to Kiev since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. The EU has so far provided a total of almost 85 billion euros in humanitarian, economic and military support to Ukraine and its people, stated the European Commission at the end of December 2023.

This attack on Hungary comes as Charles Michel abandoned his plan to resign early as president of the European Council to run in this year’s European elections following a hail of criticism.

In a January 26 post on Facebook, he said that his decision, which could leave Viktor Orbán presiding over European Union summits, has “led to extreme reactions.”

“I don’t want this decision to distract us from our mission or undermine this institution and our European project nor be misused in any way to divide the European Council, which I believe must work tirelessly for European unity,” he wrote. “But personal attacks are increasingly taking precedence over factual arguments. I believe this distorts objective democratic discourse.”

In effect, Michel has halted his plans to ensure that Orbán will not preside over EU summits as it would have created difficulties in the bloc’s plan to continue supporting Ukraine blindly.

All EU states except Hungary agreed to start bloc accession talks with Ukraine in December. Although Orbán’s opposition was bypassed by getting him to leave the room when the decision was made, European leaders could not overcome his resistance to revamping the EU budget to channel 50 billion euros to Kiev.

Hungary has clashed with the Kiev regime over rights violations against the roughly 150,000 ethnic Hungarians who live in Ukraine’s Transcarpathian region. In fact, the issue is so important for Hungarians that the Our Homeland party announced it would lay claim to the region if Ukraine lost its statehood due to the war.

“Regarding the war in Ukraine, our message is very simple: immediate ceasefire, peace and a resolution through talks,” Our Homeland leader Laszlo Toroczkai said in a video posted on his party’s website on January 27. “If this war ends up with Ukraine losing its statehood, because this is also on the cards, then as the only Hungarian party taking this position, let me signal that we lay claim to Transcarpathia.”

Therefore, by the EU sidelining the human rights violations against the Hungarian minority in Ukraine and attempting to isolate and pressure Budapest, the bloc is only emboldening more radical elements in Hungary who have irredentist ideas against Ukraine. This is something Brussels has not considered in its blind support for Ukraine and can deepen the differences it has with Budapest.


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