Hungary threatens to opt out of EU pandemic recovery fund

1 Oct 20

Hungary’s right-wing prime minister Viktor Orban has suggested his country will opt out of the European Union’s €750bn Covid-19 recovery fund in a row over democracy and the rule of law.


Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban

He said member states could negotiate a recovery package between themselves, without involving the EU, if the bloc continues to insist on tying money to conditions upholding the independence of the judiciary, media, academia and other civil society groups.

Hungary is currently being formally investigated by the EU for straying from “the EU’s founding values”.

“Europe is currently in crisis, and we must manage this crisis,” said Orban.

“This is why we should make this fund available for member states as soon as possible, instead of slowing it down with debates about the rule of law.”

The EU’s deal, which would see member states collectively take on debt to finance the recovery, was agreed in July but still needs to be formally ratified by all 27 member states.

Orban had previously threatened to block the fund, but in an interview with state media before a trip to Brussels suggested Hungary could simply opt out instead.

Hungary would miss out on €6.25bn of grants from the fund, but would still receive money from the EU budget as normal and would still take on debt collectively with the other countries unless a new deal could be struck.

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