21st Oct 2016

Heckles on 'double standards' as EU freezes Hungary's money

  • Orban - all EU states are equal but some are more equal than others (Photo:

EU finance ministers on Tuesday (13 March) approved a controversial funding freeze on Hungary under the bloc's new deficit rules, but some countries, led by Austria, say it was a bit harsh after Spain obtained concessions.

"We had a quite long discussion on Spain yesterday and on Hungary today, but it was worth it. The six-pack is working and delivering results," EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said during a press conference, referring to a package of six EU budget discipline rules.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The ministers' debate went on two hours longer than planned.

Austria, backed by Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic said the decision to freeze €495 million of EU aid for Hungary's infrastructure projects should be delayed from 1 Januay 2013 until June to give it more time to fix its deficit.

Going into the meeting, Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter also criticised what she called "double standards" and "political" sanctions against Hungary.

Ministers on Monday gave Spain more breathing space on its rule-busting deficit.

Meanwhile, Hungary over the past year has caused a stink in Brussels over laws back home that curb free press and the independence of the central bank and judiciary.

But for their part, Germany and the Netherlands said Spain has committed to €5 billion more in cuts this year, while Hungary, which has broken the EU's budget deficit rule every year since it joined in 2004, is not making any sacrifices.

"For Berlin the deficit rules are sacred," one EU diplomat told this website.

In the end, everybody - except Poland, which abstained - agreed to review the situation on 22 June: if Budapest manages to shave 0.5 percent of GDP off its deficit by the deadline, it will get to keep the EU money.

"We are not lenient and we are not particularly tough with [any given] country. There is no room to be seen as a victim of the system," EU commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio said during a press conference earlier on Tuesday.

Everybody is a special case

In a sign that Spain's let-off could open a Pandora's Box, Dutch opposition Labour party MPs on Tuesday threatened to block ratification of the new EU tretry on fiscal discipline unless the Netherlands also gets more time to put its house in order.

The Dutch centre-right coalition government needs Labour to get the pact through because the far-right Freedom Party has already said No.

The Dutch deficit is expected to hit 4.5 percent of GDP this year and it will over €15 billion in cuts to bring it down to the EU's three-percent limit in 2013.

"We are against cutting €15 billion next year. Economists also think this is wrong. It will costs jobs, companies will run into trouble," Labour MP Ronald Plasterk told Reuters.


Europe ready to tackle Greek debt relief

The Greek government has built and broadened alliances in EU institutions and member-states that acknowledge the need to restructure the debt and deliver another economic model for the eurozone.

News in Brief

  1. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  2. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  3. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  4. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  5. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  6. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting
  7. Tusk: 'Concrete' migration proposals in December summit
  8. Commuters seek compensation for Swedish ID checks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  2. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  3. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  4. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  5. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion

Latest News

  1. Women shake Poland's pillars of power
  2. Malta, Latvia, and Hungary top EU obesity charts
  3. British PM asserts her role in EU 'nest of doves'
  4. Italy shields Russia from EU sanctions threat
  5. EU and Wallonia still stuck on Canada accord
  6. Dieselgate isn't my fault, says German transport minister
  7. Scotland plans independence vote before Brexit
  8. EU threatens Russia over Syria 'atrocities'