EU states do not rule out suspending Hungary’s right to vote in the Council

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By John

A few days before the extraordinary European Council which must find the right solution for emergency funds for Ukraine as well as additional resources for migration and business aid (Step), tension rises among the 27 following the intransigent position of Budapest, which seems to have chosen the path of “blackmail”.

A dangerous strategy. Many leaders are in fact tired of the continuous vetoes of Viktor Orban – who opposes the revision of the community budget and demands an alternative solution – and go so far as to invoke the nuclear option, or the activation of Article 7 of the treaties, which even provides for the suspension of voting rights within the Council.

In practice the EU red card. The frustration derives not only from a question of method – blackmail, precisely – but also of merit. Orban’s claim not to go through the community budget to help Ukraine with the 50 billion promised over four years (a mix of subsidies and loans) in fact poses a series of technical problems, which reduces the predictability necessary to support really Kiev.

«Some of Budapest’s requests can be partially satisfied – assures a high European source – while others encounter total opposition, such as the annual vote on the funds, which would give Orban a veto that could be played on other tables».

And in the immediate future, for example, funding for migration and Step could end up in the whirlpool in the wake of cross-vetoes between the remaining 26 so as not to give Hungary the upper hand. However, the issue here becomes political. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico publicly stated that he would never authorize Article 7 against Hungary; What remains to be seen is the feasibility of such a disruptive measure on the eve of the European elections, in a phase in which the various political families (net of the legal free-for-all) are studying to find possible post-vote balances and arrive at the renewal of the European institutions.

“To be honest it seems rather unrealistic to me,” confides a diplomat. “If Orban decides to come out on Thursday,” he adds, “there will certainly be consequences but in a more subtle way.” The rotating Hungarian presidency – according to the calendar it should start on July 1st – may no longer be a given, given that a majority vote is enough to change the order of rotation. The fact remains that the delay in financing in Kiev is becoming increasingly pressing, also due to what is happening in Washington.

The speaker of the US House, Republican Mike Johnson, has warned that the renewal of American military aid to Ukraine will not pass because even the Senate “seems incapable of reaching any agreement”.

The European agreement therefore becomes even more crucial. The technicians of both the Commission and the Council are therefore working on a plan B in case Hungary does not submit but it would be an emergency solution that dissatisfies everyone (apart from Orban). At this stage the negotiations continue but – as far as we know – the Council “is ready” to open the Article 7 procedure, which is activated at the request of a third of its members, the Commission or the European Parliament.