Hungary has refused to grant final approval of the European Union’s planned 750 billion euros (669.5 billion pounds) borrowing to spur economic recovery in the bloc from the coronavirus pandemic without guarantees on a linked mechanism on the rule of law, diplomatic sources said.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long been at loggerheads with the EU over democratic checks and balances, and stands accused of undermining the independence of the judiciary, media, academics and advocacy groups in Hungary.
Under a historic deal, the EU agreed last July that its executive would borrow 750 billion euros on the market to top up a trillion euros worth of spending under the bloc’s joint budget in 2021-27 to help the continent recover from the COVID-19 slump.
The agreement between the 27 member states still requires approval by the European Parliament, as well as many national parliaments across the EU.
The package would also link access to EU funds to respecting democratic principles, which Orban now wants to ensure would not hurt him in order to grant Hungary’s final approval, according to the sources.