The European Commission's building in Brussels – Photo: wikipedia

Finance Minister: Hungary rejects EC intervening in member states’ budgets

The Hungarian government rejects the European Commission's "even stronger interference" in member states' budgets, Mihaly Varga, the finance minister, said before the meeting of the Council of Finance Ministers (Ecofin) in Luxembourg on Friday, adding that the EC's firmer hand would introduce "yet another double standard".

Meanwhile, on the subject of country-specific recommendations to be presented later today, Varga told Hungarian journalists that Hungary had met its commitments to the EU for funds to be unblocked, but the European Commission was unearthing more and more objections so as to avoid paying the money rightfully owed to Hungary.

He said Hungary had undertaken its commitments but the EU was not reciprocating, so “we won’t support the adoption of the document at the meeting”.

Varga said that Hungary agreed that the budget policy of member states should more disciplined on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, but it was “dangerous” to give the EC “excessive powers” to put a budgetary straightjacket on member states based on “double standards”.

Forming disciplined budgetary policy “should be left to national governments” which can develop policies that are tailored to their own country, he said.

Hungary’s government has embarked on this path and has been pushing down the public debt and budget deficit ever since the pandemic, he said, adding that the 2024 budget targeted a deficit of 2.94 percent and a public debt of 66.7 percent of GDP, 10 percentage points more favorable than the EU average.

“Hungary is setting a good example … and making good decisions,” Varga said.

“On the basis on the document, we sense that the European Commission is still looking into how to avoid handing over the funds to Hungary. This is unacceptable,” he said.

Had the funds already been incorporated into the Hungarian budget, the country’s economic growth last year would have been well above 5 percent instead of 4.6 percent, he said.

Hungary, the minister added, had enacted numerous reforms to gain access to EU funds, “so we’re counting on the full amount in the 2024 budget”.

Varga said Friday’s council meeting will consider two important documents: the EC was preparing to expand its powers and make stealthily interventions in the economic policies of the member states. He said Hungary’s government could not accept these, and would not allow it to jeopardise the government’s achievements of recent years, such as lower consumer energy bills.

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