Orban Says EU Leaders Rejected His Rule-of-Law Demands

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said other European Union leaders had rejected his proposal to speed up an ongoing rule of law procedure against Hungary, complicating talks to secure a deal on the bloc’s emergency pandemic funding.

Hungary is against a Dutch motion that would require countries taking grants to agree to be bound by the rule of law, Orban said on the sidelines of a debate between EU leaders in Brussels on Sunday. He said the EU should instead pursue the rule of law procedure against Hungary that began in 2018, while channeling resources as quickly as possible to fight the economic crisis stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Orban said a new mechanism adding conditions to pandemic funds “would take a long time to be negotiated” because it’s a legal instrument. “We are not against it, let’s discuss it, but it takes weeks,” he said.

The proposed rule of law mechanism is one of the key bottlenecks for EU leaders who have so far failed to unlock an agreement on a 750 billion-euro ($860 billion) response to the crisis.

“I think we have a good chance to make a deal,” Orban said, adding an agreement was “not about Hungary, but about Europe.” Orban also said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was the one who could block an accord. “If there is a break, it’s because of him, not because of me,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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