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ORBÁN SEES GOOD CHANCE FOR DEAL ON EU RECOVERY PACKAGE

 

Only four pivotal issues remain to be discussed in connection with the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery package, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said ahead of the third day of talks at an EU summit in Brussels, adding that he believed there was a good chance EU leaders would reach a deal on the package. Among the contentious issues besides the rule-of-law mechanism, he mentioned the size of the recovery fund, which he said must be adequate to manage the economic downturn caused by the epidemic. Another issue to be debated, he said, was the proportion between the non-refundable grants and loans contained within the package. Orbán said the Netherlands was pushing for the introduction of a mechanism that would grant it significant influence over the distribution of EU funds, especially in the case of southern member states. Hungary in this regard supports Italy’s position that the member states in need of urgent assistance should be the first to receive money.
As regards the proportion between the non-refundable grants and loans contained in the rescue package, the prime minister said there was a “humiliating” discrepancy between the amount of funding that would be allocated to Hungary and what member states of similar size, similar population size and revenues would receive. Though Hungary considers it unfair that it stands to receive several billions of euros less than those countries, it is willing to accept such a solution in the interest of European unity, Orbán said. Concerning the scale of rebates on budget contributions awarded to richer member states, Orbán said that though the richer countries wanted to hold on to that “privilege”, this mechanism should be scrapped now that the United Kingdom has quit the bloc.
As regards civil organisations, the prime minister said the bloc should rethink how it funds those groups, arguing that they spent the money they receive from the EU on “attacking” the governments of member states. Orbán said he had proposed during the talks that civil groups should be treated the same way as political parties when it comes to their receipt of financial support from the EU, but added that his proposal had been voted down by the other leaders. The prime minister said it was vital to approve the recovery package, adding that he was prepared to continue talks in the matter next week.