The activation of Article 7 was reportedly floated after Budapest blocked a massive financial support package for Kiev
The possibility of Hungary temporarily forfeiting its voting rights within the European Union is reportedly being considered, the Financial Times has claimed. This development comes after heightened discussions, especially after Budapest opposed a €50 billion ($54 billion) four-year financial aid package for Ukraine during last Thursday’s EU summit.
While Hungary did not ultimately block the initiation of EU accession talks with Kiev, as previously threatened, the Central European nation maintains a divergent stance on Ukraine compared to the bloc’s official position. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has consistently criticized Brussels’ plans for Ukraine’s full EU membership and Western countries’ belief in Kiev’s military capability against Russia.
According to the Financial Times’ report published on Monday, citing anonymous officials, some EU members are considering activating Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, which allows states to lose certain rights if persistently in breach of core EU principles.
The report pointed out, however, that many countries are hesitant to use this perceived nuclear option. Instead, these nations prefer revealing to Budapest the “full costs” of its isolation.
An anonymous EU staffer told the media outlet that while “Hungary can create more trouble,” it will not be able to “stop us providing money to Ukraine.” The official disagreed with those who like to paint Orban as “Putin’s puppet,” adding that the Hungarian prime minister is pursuing his own agenda.
The FT quoted another unnamed EU diplomat as saying that Orban is “always transactional, never ideological” and is merely seeking the unfreezing of €20 billion worth of EU funding, which Brussels had suspended over concerns related to the rule of law in the Central European country.
The Hungarian prime minister and his foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, however, dismissed such claims last week.
On the other hand, Lithuanian MEP Rasa Jukneviciene asserted on Friday that Orban is working for Russia and undermining the EU from within.
“I appeal to the Commission, to the leaders of the Council: Let’s start to think about the procedure to suspend the voting rights of Hungary,” the lawmaker implored.
Speaking to Hungary’s Radio Kossuth on Friday, Orban highlighted that Budapest still has approximately 75 opportunities to impede Kiev’s path to EU membership. He has raised concerns about what he describes as endemic corruption in Ukraine on multiple occasions.