If the debate on the link between the rule of law and budgetary issues hampers the launch of a financial recovery fund for the coronavirus epidemic, an intergovernmental agreement is possible outside the EU institutions, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told MTI in Budapest on Thursday before leaving for the EU summit in Brussels.
The prime minister expects that the meeting, whether formally or informally, will certainly discuss the decision taken this summer to create a large financial fund in addition to the usual seven-year budget to help the troubled economies of European countries.
There are heated debates about its implementation, and many want to link it to the rule of law, he said.
At the same time, the Hungarian government’s position is that “now there is a crisis in Europe, now a crisis must be dealt with, this financial fund must be made available to the countries as soon as possible, and the pace cannot be slowed down by debates on the rule of law,” Orbán said.
Thus, he called the intention to link rule of law issues with financial issues badly scheduled and badly timed.
If, however, the discussions prevented the Next Generation Fund from becoming operational in the current context, there is still the possibility for European states to set up this financial fund on an intergovernmental basis, i.e. outside the EU institutions, through an intergovernmental agreement.
This way the disputes between various member states of the Union can be avoided altogether, and the money can be delivered quickly to countries in need, he said.
Orbán also said that the current EU summit is planned to focus on foreign policy issues, such as the issue of relations with Turkey, the longer-term relationship with China and the EU’s response to the situation in Belarus.
Regarding the latter, the Visegrád Four group, consisting of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, currently have an independent initiative involving providing a kind of European Marshall Aid to Belarus, he said.
With regard to the summit’s most critical agenda point, which is the standoff of Greece and Cyprus with Turkey over exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, there are almost as many positions as there are EU member states.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, only said before the discussions began that “different options are on the table it will be the occasion today to say clearly what we want in the future for the relationship between the EU and this part of the world.”
Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (L) and Polish Prime Minister Matesuz Morawieczki confer in Brussels on October 1 ahead of a two-day European Union summit there. (MTI/EPA/Vivien Cher Benko)