Hungary‘s ruling party submitted a resolution to parliament on Wednesday, calling on the government not to support the start of talks on Ukraine‘s EU accession as Budapest steps up pressure on Brussels ahead of a crucial summit next week, according to Reuters.
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.
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. This resulted in billions of euros of EU funds for Hungary being frozen.
“The European Union’s expansion policy should remain an objective process based on rules and performance,” the parliamentary resolution submitted by the ruling party said.
“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.”
It 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 grains 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, ahead of the summit, his press chief said.
“Orban has committed to a very public strategy of creating chaos and panic ahead of the EU Council Summit. The spectacle he is producing is designed to create stress and maximize his leverage before EU leaders meet,” said Roger Hilton, a research fellow at GLOBSEC, a think tank.