“We have fought for our rights and rejected everything that isn’t acceptable for our nations,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at a press conference held with Mateusz Morawiecki, his Polish counterpart, in Brussels late on Thursday.
The European Council on Thursday night accepted the EU’s budget for the 2021-2027 financial cycle and its Next Generation EU recovery fund. Regarding the rule-of-law provision in the document, the summit added a clause stating that the mechanism can only be triggered if a member state’s actions harm EU financial interests.
At the press conference held at the Polish embassy in Brussels after the summit, Orbán said the debate was “not only about the rule-of-law mechanism.” “The EU’s very future was at stake.”
Orbán said that the achievements of the summit served to protect EU unity. “The agreement is a good outcome in terms of Europe’s future, because it has become obvious that the EU can only operate as a community of nations,” the prime minister said.
In the next step, the national parliaments will have to accept the agreement, Orbán said. “We have done our job as best we could,” he said.
The agreement protects the European Treaty by preventing the rule-of-law mechanism from being used for political purposes, he said.
The agreement can only be amended with an unanimous agreement of all member state leaders, he said.
Hungary will exercise its right to bring the rule-of-law mechanism before the European court to see whether it is compatible with EU law, he said.
Morawiecki said the agreement was a joint achievement of the Visegrad Group, and a signal of the four countries’ loyalty to each other. After “hard and stressful talks”, the agreement contains stronger legal guarantees regarding rule-of-law conditionality than the original draft did, he said.
Poland will also take the mechanism before European court, Morawiecki said. Whether the Polish and Hungarian suits will be brought together or separately is yet to be decided, he added.
Hungary has won a battle through the agreement concerning the European Union’s budget achieved on Thursday night, Katalin Novák, minister without portfolio in charge of family affairs, said in a video published on Facebook.
Novák said the agreement was “not only about finances but the present and future of Hungarian children and whether we can freely live in Europe as Hungarians”.
Novák said she believed in a Europe “where there is freedom, where member states can freely decide how they want to live, where people can think differently and were each nation can independently decide about its own present and future”.
The Hungarian government has withstood “empirial endeavours to force ideologies on Hungarians: it has rejected mass immigration and the gender ideology just as it had rejected communism”, Novák said.
Having received the guarantees it demanded in connection with the dispute over rule-of-law conditionality, Hungary has succeeded in preserving its sovereignty, Justice Minister Judit Varga said in an interview on Friday.
Varga cited the prime minister as saying that ideological battles should not be fought during the pandemic.
“The most important victory is that they understood this,” she told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio. Also, countries most in need of the EU recovery package will get their money quickly, she added.
No member state, she said, could be blackmailed into abandoning its national identity and standpoint on ideological issues. Further, Hungarians’ money has been protected, Varga said.
The minister said it was only Hungary and Poland that had “jogged everyone’s memory that the EU treaties require unanimity on certain issues such as European values, including the rule of law.”