Friday

20th Sep 2019

Hungarian minister says No to EU 'empire-building'

  • Budapest: the commission unblocked a big chunk of cohesion aid one day before the verbal attack (Photo: Axel Buhrmann)

A Hungarian minister has accused the EU of trying to over-extend its power amid the financial crisis.

Gyorgy Matolcsy, the 56-year-old economy minister from the nationalist Fidesz party, said in an op-ed in the business weekly Heti Valasz on Thursday (31 May) he wants a "Europe of nations," not a "European empire" and that Hungary should stay out of the euro.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"The effort to centralise the European Union since 2008 has not been successful," he said, referring to the start of the crisis.

"The centralisation of a European empire, that is to say the further strengthening of Brussels, is contrary to our interests, because it erodes the independence of the Hungarian state, necessary for the country's economic development."

Matolcsy's remarks tap into popular feeling: a poll by the Pew Research Centre earlier this week said people in seven out of eight EU countries in its survey did not want Brussels to get more budgetary powers.

In Hungary itself, Fidesz's popularity is on the wane and Brussels-bashing is popular after the country quietly imposed one of the toughest sets of austerity measures in the EU in recent years.

The minister's attack comes despite the fact the European Commission on Wednesday unblocked €450 million of aid for Hungary and praised its budgetary restraint.

Meanwhile, the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, and economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn, kept up calls for further integration at two seperate events in Brussels on Thursday.

Draghi told the European Parliament: "That configuration that we had with us by and large for 10 years which was basically considered sustainable, I should say, I should add in a perhaps biotic way, is being shown now to be unsustainable unless further steps are being undertaken."

He endorsed the idea of creating an EU banking union - as also promoted by European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday - including a "European guaranteed deposit fund."

For his part, Rehn at the opening session of the Brussels Forum, a business congress in the EU capital said euro zone states should jointly underwrite debt because it will be difficult "to anchor a stability culture in the euro zone without significantly pooling the burden of adjustment."

Hungary tops EU anti-fraud investigation list

In its annual report, the EU's anti-fraud agency said it concluded nine investigations into Hungary and found irregularities in seven cases. In total, the agency recommended the recovery of €371m EU-wide.

Exclusive

Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

A European financial regulatory body set up after the financial crisis is at loggerheads with the European Commission over whether to carry out a transparency review of certain financial products. The reason: Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  2. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  3. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  4. Germany takes carbon border tax onboard
  5. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  6. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  7. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  8. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  2. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  3. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  4. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  5. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  6. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  7. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  8. A new Commission for the one percent

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us