EU throws ‘black sheep’ of Brussels under the bus

Hungary: Viktor Orban votes in election amid pro-Ukraine protests

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The European Union has thrown Hungary under the bus, according to Viktor Orban. A new Government-sponsored advertising campaign argues, in no uncertain terms, that “the Brussels sanctions are destroying us!”.

The Prime Minister this week told a flag-waving audience that their country is under threat in all directions, not least because of its relationship with Brussels.

He said: “Financial crisis and economic downturn in the EU. Migration invasion in the south. War in the east and economic crisis in the West.”

Mr Orban was clear about his view of those at least partly responsible for Hungary’s economic troubles, noting: “Let us not worry about those who are shooting at Hungary hidden in the shadows, somewhere from the watchtowers of Brussels.”

Brussels and Budapest are particularly split over sanctions against Russia in light of the war in Ukraine.

The Prime Minister has described the sanctions as “economic suicide”.

In this country, too, former PM Liz Truss stressed that London-imposed sanctions meant Britain will “have to undergo some economic hardship”, and now-PM Rishi Sunak earlier this year noted that the UK’s responsive measures “are not cost free for us here at home”.

But both London and Brussels have, for various reasons, judged these costs acceptable.

Even Poland, which has previously sided with Hungary against the EU over the rule of law, has come out strongly in favour of harder sanctions, despite the costs, leaving Budapest more isolated than normal.

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The Government-sponsored poster attacking “Brussels Sanctions” comes ahead of a national consultation in Hungary on the economic measures imposed against Moscow over its “Special Military Operation”.

Responding to the campaign, Eurasia Group’s Europe Managing Director Mujtaba Rahman said the EU “has a big Viktor Orban problem”.

The European Commission has withheld around 27billion euros of EU funds from Hungary namely due to its concerns over corruption and the erosion of democratic standards.

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This equates to around £23.4billion.

Green Party MEP Daniel Freund commented on social media that concerns over corruption were the main reason Budapest was at loggerheads with Brussels.

He wrote: “Orban might always claim that there’s some culture war going on between Brussels and Budapest. It’s a red herring.

“The conflict with Hungary is about rampant corruption and the systematic demolition of democratic institutions!”

Orban this week told an audience: “Only we can defend our own truth against the threats that loom over us.”

This came amid rising inflation rates in Hungary – to 20 percent – and rising borrowing costs.

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