HUNGARY could reassess its membership of the European Union by the end of the decade, the country’s finance minister has warned.
Mihбly Varga said that Hungary was likely to rethink its position once it becomes a net contributor to the EU’s budget, adding fuel to the debate over its place in the bloc in the lead-up to the country’s elections next year.
“When we calculate that we will already be net contributors to the EU, the issue could get a new perspective,” said Mr Varga, one of the more moderate members within Right-wing prime minister Viktor Orbбn’s cabinet, in an interview with Hungarian media.
“Especially if the attacks in Brussels are continuous because of the choice of values.” Mr Varga added that if a hypothetical vote were to take place this year for Hungary to join the EU now, he would “be among those who voted yes”.
Hungary joined the EU in 2004 and has always taken more out of the budget than it has paid in.
In the EU’s 2018 budget cycle for example, Hungary received around Ј4.25 billion from the budget, money mainly aimed at trying to even out inequalities across the bloc
While still in the EU that year, the UK paid Ј8.35 billion into the pot. Hungary is expected to become a net contributor by 2030, meaning it will pay in rather than taking out.
Meanwhile, Hungary is locked in a battle with Brussels and the other EU member states over access to its slice of the Ј640 billion pot of cash being created for the economic recovery from the pandemic.
The European Commission has delayed approving the start of payouts of the Ј6.15 billion tranche Budapest is expecting.
Brussels has refused to give reasoning for this but it is widely seen to be related to the mechanism written into the agreements for the 2021-27 budget which tie cash to respecting fundamental rights and fighting corruption.
Hungary and Poland campaigned vociferously against that mechanism being written in last year but succumbed, expecting it to be toothless.
Brussels has already begun infringement procedures against Warsaw and Budapest over rule-of-law breaches such as cracking down on free media, interfering with judicial freedoms and closing down civil society and non-governmental organisations. “The country doesn’t have time for this back and forth, that’s why we’re going to launch the national plan from our own resources,” Mr Varga said.
When The Daily Telegraph contacted the European Commission for response, a spokesman said that it “never comments on comments”.
In June, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said that Hungary had “no business being in the European Union any more”.