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EU crafts detailed plan to sabotage Hungary’s ‘blackmail’ against Ukraine aid package | World | News


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European Union officials are said to have devised a confidential strategy to disrupt Hungary‘s economy if Prime Minister Viktor Orbán persists in blocking a €50 billion support package for Ukraine. This move comes in response to growing frustration across European capitals over what one diplomat labels Orbán’s “policy of blackmail”.

The plan, detailed by the Financial Times, reportedly involves measures aimed at weakening Hungary’s economy, depreciating its currency, and diminishing investor confidence. Orbán had previously blocked the €50billion in funds for Ukraine in December, prompting an emergency leaders meeting scheduled for Thursday to revisit the issue.

The document allegedly outlines that if there is no agreement in the summit on February 1, other EU leaders would publicly declare their inability to envision providing EU funds to Budapest due to the “unconstructive behaviour” of the Hungarian Prime Minister

Hungary, whose economy heavily relies on the single market, with nearly all its exports going to neighbouring countries, faces potential consequences. European Commission data reveals that 78 percent of Hungary’s exports are intra-EU trade, with Germany accounting for 28 percent, and Romania, Slovakia, Austria, and Italy each contributing 5 percent. The EU has previously used fund freezing as a tool to push Hungary on various issues, including LGBTQ+ rights.

János Bóka, Hungary’s EU minister, dismissed the alleged plan, stating that Hungary “does not give in to pressure” and emphasised that there is no connection between Ukraine and general access to EU funds. He accused Brussels of using access to EU funds for “political blackmailing”.

EU sources express increasing frustration, with one saying: “The reality is Hungary has not really been flexible on this. The member state level of frustration is increasing. It is higher than in December.”

Concerns about Hungary’s opposition have escalated to the point where several member states are reportedly advocating for the triggering of Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union, which could strip Hungary of its voting rights if Orbán persists in blocking EU decisions.

The European Council president, Charles Michel, has allegedly abandoned plans to step down in July amid fears that Orbán could take the chair at summits until a new leader is found. However, using Article 7 is viewed as a last resort, and some diplomats caution against its implementation despite the anger directed at Hungary.

Orbán remains unyielding despite visits and calls from EU leaders. Budapest’s latest proposal suggests agreeing to the funds for Ukraine on an annual basis, a move EU leaders interpret as granting Hungary an annual veto, a concession they are unwilling to make, particularly due to the potential uncertainty for Ukraine in securing funds in January 2025 and subsequent years until the funding review in 2027.

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