Hungarians should be the only ones to decide on how they get to spend European Union funding allocated to Hungary, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio over the weekend. “We won’t accept being subjected to any kind of political blackmail by anyone … in terms of how European Union resources are spent,” Szijjártó said in the telephone interview. “The so-called rule-of-law mechanism leaves room for blackmail and political influencing.” Szijjártó said the debate going on in Brussels was about “much more than how the internal structure of the recovery fund should look”. The debate is about who should get to decide how EU funds are used, he said.
“The funds coming from the European Union are our monies, too, so the decisions on how they’re spent cannot be influenced through blackmail or unclear procedures built on baseless accusations,” Szijjártó said. EU funds are not humanitarian aid, he said, adding that Hungary had not acquired them through the goodwill of western European countries, but rather through the economic output generated by Europeans, including the Hungarian people.
Szijjártó said Hungary has observed and abided by every European treaty on the basis of which the country could rightfully expect a “fair and apolitical distribution” of EU resources. He said all the European Council had to do to make a decision that suits all member states was act in a rational way. This means that the council must not make a decision that results in an unfair distribution of EU funds that would see poorer member states getting less money than the richer ones, the minister added. The council should also steer clear of a situation that would see countries that had demonstrated a better handling of the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus epidemic getting penalised and should not reward policies that lead to uncertainty and indebtedness, he added. “The way the European Council can make a good decision is by removing all possibilities for political blackmail from the system,” Szijjártó said. The minister said that as it stands now the rule-of-law mechanism could create a situation where if “someone in Brussels doesn’t like, for instance, Hungary’s migration policy, then we could have EU funds taken away from us”. He called this arrangement “scandalous”, saying it went against European interests and values.