Tuesday

16th Apr 2024

Hungary, Poland say 'more talks' needed on UK deal

Hungary and Poland said Monday (8 February) that most of British prime minister David Cameron’s proposals for EU reform are acceptable, but more talks are needed on some issues, and pledged to stand together in political and economic matters.

“We have discussed the changes proposed by Britain and we said that we agree with most of their proposals, but there are some points where more talks are needed” Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban told a joint press conference with the Polish premier Beata Szydlo in Budapest, without elaborating.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The main sticking point for eastern European countries, from which a significant number of EU workers have come to Britain, has been Cameron’s efforts to curb in-work benefits for EU citizens.

Last Friday Cameron travelled to Warsaw and got the tentative backing of the Polish government for his deal.

The Visegrad countries, known as the V4, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia will hold a meeting on 15 February, to coordinate their position on the draft EU-UK deal, especially on curbing benefit payments.

Szydlo answering a question said the V4 will not agree to extend the interpretation of the proposed measures to an EU-wide level, local news wire MTI reported.

Diplomatic sources told this website earlier that one of the concerns of the eastern member states is that the UK's benefit curbs will open the door for other countries to restrict benefits to EU workers.

A source with knowledge of behind the door discussions told this website that Poland and Hungary, above all, have a problem with London casting their citizens as second class “migrants” in a fellow EU country, rather than with Cameron’s actual proposals.

EU diplomats and national negotiators will sit down once again on Thursday in Brussels to hammer out the details of the deal.

Venice in Warsaw

Szydlo and Orban on Monday also committed for Poland and Hungary to stick together on political issues.

Orban said: “I want to make it clear, Poland can count on Hungary’s solidarity against any kind of double standards being applied against it.”

The comments came as officials from the Venice Commission, a group of legal experts at the Council of Europe , arrived in Warsaw on Monday for a two-day fact-finding visit to check if Poland’s recent legislation is in line with EU law.

The head of the mission, Gianni Buquicchio, started by meeting Polish president Andrzej Duda.

Under pressure from Frans Timmermans, a EU Commission vice president, the Polish government requested the Venice Commission review late last year after new measures regulating the constitutional court and public media sparked concerns among EU officials.

Last month, the EU Commission launched an unprecedented probe into the controversial reforms made by the Law and Justice (PiS), which swept into power last October.

The Venice Commission’s findings, which are expected in a few weeks, will feed into the EU Commission’s legal assessment of whether the Polish government has taken a worrying turn towards weakening the rule of law.

The EU Commission’s review of Polish reforms comes after years of similar probes into Hungary, where PM Orban revamped the constitution and centralised power, vowing to build an "illiberal" state and criticising what he saw as politically motivated interference from Brussels.

EU commission puts Poland on the hook

The EU commission has triggered rule-of-law monitoring of Poland, in an unprecedented step, prompted by constitutional and media reforms. The move follows a nasty exchange of letters.

UK offered legally binding EU commitments

EU leaders will next week agree to grant Britain a set of "legally binding" concessions on eurozone integration and welfare, according to draft summit conclusions seen by EUobserver.

EU-UK talks stumbling on banks and benefits

While central European countries still express concerns over plans to limit benefits for EU workers, France says unfair competition in the financial sector is a "red line".

UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

EU and UK negotiators said that a new post-Brexit settlement for Gibraltar was just weeks away from completion following four-way talks in Brussels on Friday (12 April).

Opinion

The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. EU puts Sudan war and famine-risk back in spotlight
  2. EU to blacklist Israeli settlers, after new sanctions on Hamas
  3. Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign
  4. Brussels venue ditches far-right conference after public pressure
  5. How German police pulled the plug on a Gaza conference
  6. EU special summit, MEPs prep work, social agenda This WEEK
  7. EU leaders condemn Iran, urge Israeli restraint
  8. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us