PUBLISHED: 14:59, Thu, Sep 3, 2020 | UPDATED: 15:00, Thu, Sep 3, 2020
At the end of July, EU leaders finally struck a deal on a huge coronavirus recovery package after a fourth night of sometimes bitter talks. Much of the attention focused on the dispute over just how generous the EU’s fiscal package had to be, with the Frugal Four countries – the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark – pushing for a smaller deal, and one made up only of loans, rather than a mix of loans and grants. However, there was another battle in the negotiations that gained less attention.
The second row concerned whether or not to impose protections for the rule of law and human rights as a condition for benefiting from what ended up being a historic €750billion (£668billion) recovery plan.
When negotiations ended, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbàn, who had spearheaded the opposition to any conditions on the rule of law, declared a “huge victory,” since there were no specific good governance requirements in the agreement.
Nevertheless, he is now reportedly threatening not to ratify the fund until he gets reassurances that it won’t risk punishment over Hungary's sliding democratic standards.
Budapest has informed its EU peers that the bloc must first agree on a rule-of-law clause attached to the aid’s disbursements before Hungary’s Parliament ratifies the package, according to an EU diplomat familiar with the matter.
EU on brink as Hungary's threat to block coronavirus recovery fund 'risks ENTIRE bloc' (Image: GETTY)
EU summit on the coronavirus recovery fund (Image: GETTY)
Mr Orbàn wants the mechanism to be as