Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s move to block the EU budget has backfired. Most Hungarians support the bloc and reject Orban’s veto. #Hungary #Orban #EU #Commissioner #Poland #VETO Hungarian Prime Minister Orban had speculated that the other 25 EU member states would cease pressing for a rule of law clause to “get access to emergency coronavirus funds,” says Daniel Hegedüs of the German Marshall Fund. “That plan did not work.”

It is because the idea of a rule-of-law clause is gaining traction within Dutch and Danish political discourse, the political scientist tells DW. “The Orban government has overlooked the emergence of a kind of rule-of-law coalition among member states and in the European parliament,” says Hegedüs.

Orban, usually gifted with political instinct, seems to be out of touch with his own populace over the budget veto. Indeed, a survey commissioned by the European parliament recently found that 77% of Hungarians support linking the transfer of EU funds to rule-of-law principles. No wonder, as corruption is rife in Hungary.

Rampant corruption
Orban’s very own family members have made headlines for allegations of graft. According to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Prime Minister Orban’s son-in-law, Istvan Tiborcz, embezzled €40 million in EU funds. He has not been prosecuted in Hungary. Journalists from Hungary’s investigative Direkt36 platform also unveiled corruption linked to the prime minister’s father. Viktor Gyözö reportedly used shell companies to benefit from state contracts with EU funding.

These practices are systemic. Apparently, much EU funding vanishes in Hungary without a trace. Transparency International ranks the country as the bloc’s second-most corrupt. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) similarly deems Hungary’s anti-corruption track record “globally unsatisfactory.”

Out of touch with Hungarians
For a long time, many Hungarians have deemed graft one of the country’s foremost problems. Prime Minister Orban’s veto against the EU rule-of-law clause therefore runs counter what most Hungarians want. A telephone survey commissioned by broadcaster Euronews found that only 15% of Hungarians support their leader’s veto on this issue.

Most Hungarians think Orban’s move could have dire and even immediate financial consequences for the country. After all, the European Commission plans to rapidly pay out emergency coronavirus funds. Poland and Hungary could miss out on a total of €23 billion in this first instalment, according to the distribution quota.

At the Siegendorf shopping center, Balazs Nagy and his wife Henrietta from nearby Hungary tell me EU taxpayers certainly have a right to know what their money is spent on. Even so, Nagy says, economics and politics should be separated. In his opinion, Orban’s “veto was politically motivated.”

The Hungarian prime minister wants to see financial issues separated from questions of political morality, too. His government insist that Brussels should pay Hungary what it deserves. Nagy agrees: “What Hungary pays in, it gets out.”

Biggest net recipient
Figures by the European Statistical Office (Eurostat) tell a different story. Poland and Hungary are, in fact, the bloc’s biggest net recipients. Last year, Warsaw received €12 billion in EU funds. Budapest received €5 billion, while contributing merely €1 billion to the EU budget.

Balazs Nagy refuses to accept that his home country is the bloc’s second biggest net recipient of EU funds. “The figures are a lie, just like so much else in Brussels.” The couple work in an Austrian meat processing plant in Loipersbach, on the Hungarian border. #eudebates

Is a EU budget compromise in sight? Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban explains!

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