EU on the brink: Hungary warns it will quit this decade unless Brussels bullying stops

Hungary spokesman says ‘parental issues don’t belong in EU’

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Mihaly Varga said Budapest’s membership of the EU could fall under questioning if its budget payments increase and Brussels continues to launch political attacks on the government. If a referendum was held on Hungary’s EU membership this year, the minister said he would support continued participation in the bloc. But Mr Varga warned this could soon change.

He said: “If there was such a question in 2021, I’d be among those who’d vote yes.

“But by the end of the decade, when according to our calculations we’d become net payers in the EU, the question may be case in a new perspective, especially if the attacks by Brussels over values become sustained.”

The issue of Hungary’s EU membership is likely to be a key theme of next year’s parliamentary election.

The ballot is expected to be the closest contest since anti-Brussels prime minister Viktor Orban won power in 2010.

The strongman leader is facing growing opposition with a single goal to oust him, roll back his national power grabs and restore relations with Brussels.

Unlike Britain, which became the first country to quit the EU, Hungary has been one of the bloc’s biggest recipients of funding from Brussels’ coffers.

Budapest joined the EU in 2004 as part of an enlargement project that brought in nine other, mostly formerly communist, nations into the bloc.

Mr Orban has repeatedly claimed he has no intention to take Hungary out of the EU.

But he has used his leadership to challenge Brussels’ power, in moves his critics claim are are increasingly authoritarian.

At the end of last year, Hungary, as well as Poland, threatened to veto the EU’s 2021-207 budget over concerns that new rules could see funds withheld from rogue states.

Both Budapest and Warsaw are currently subject to so-called Article 7 challenges for flouting EU rules.

It could eventually end with both rogue states having their voting rights removed.

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National governments across the EU are becoming increasingly frustrated with Budapest, especially its controversial proposals for an anti-LGBT law.

At the June meeting of the European Council, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told Mr Orban that his country had “no business being in the European Union any more” after Hungary approved the legislation.

And Hungary is currently fighting for Brussels to approve its spending plans for access to the EU’s coronavirus recovery fund.

The European Commission has delayed its decision to approve Budapest’s plans.

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Eurocrats argue that there are concerns with corruption as well as threats to the independence of the country’s judiciary.

As a result, they have held back on making a decision that would open the flood gates to £6.1 billion of EU funding to Hungary.

The Hungarian government has said it will pre-finance the pandemic funding if the EU continues to delay its decision.

Mr Varga accused Brussels of pursuing “political charges” against Budapest.

He said: “The country doesn’t have time for this back-and-forth, that’s why we’re going to launch the national plan from our own resources.”

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