Hungary’s ruling party has submitted a resolution to parliament calling on the government to not support the start of talks on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union as Budapest steps up pressure on Brussels ahead of a crucial summit next week.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has warned that EU leaders could fail to reach a consensus on starting membership talks with Ukraine and said the issue should not be put on the summit’s agenda.
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“The European Union’s expansion policy should remain an objective process based on rules and performance,” said the parliamentary resolution submitted by the ruling conservative party Fidesz on Wednesday.
“The start of membership talks with Ukraine should be based on a consensus among European Union member states … The conditions for this are not present today.”
Unanimity among all EU member states is required to admit a new country into the bloc, giving Orban a powerful veto. Under the pro-Russian leader, Hungary has often complicated EU efforts to support Ukraine amid Moscow’s invasion, although Orban has eventually nodded to all military and sanctions packages.
The resolution also said EU leaders should first make a thorough assessment of how Ukraine’s possible membership would affect cohesion and agricultural policies within the bloc, of which the EU’s poorer members, including Hungary, are among the main beneficiaries.
A large-scale inflow of Ukrainian grain into the EU triggered protests from farmers in eastern Europe last year, while Polish truckers have blockaded several border crossings with Ukraine, calling on the EU to restore permits limiting transit for Ukrainian competitors.
Orban will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday, when the issue of European support for Ukraine will be discussed as well as the Israel-Palestinian conflict, according to a statement from the French presidential palace.
Critics accuse Orban of trying to blackmail Brussels to gain access to billions of euros in EU funding.
Distrust of Orban has been running high in Brussels after bitter run-ins during his 13 years in power over the rights of gay people and migrants in Hungary, as well as tightening state controls over academics, the courts and media
The European Commission, the EU’s executive, is withholding nearly 22 billion euros ($24bn) from Hungary over concerns about corruption and perceived backsliding of democratic norms under Orban.
Moreover, the Hungarian leader has continued to maintain ties with Moscow, even as the EU has imposed sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine.