Hungarian leader to lobby German counterpart not to cut EU budget

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet her Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in Berlin today. Orban is

Orban Merkel

Photo: RT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet her Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in Berlin today.

Orban is expected to attempt to persuade Merkel to oppose cuts to regional development in the 2021-2027 EU budget, as well as loosen up preconditions on that funding. Released in May 2019, the draft budget proposes a 10% cut to regional funding that benefits the less-developed eastern and southern EU member states. Hungary and 15 other EU states, known as the “friends of cohesion”, strongly oppose this reduction.

Opposing them is a “frugal” group of richer net contributors to the budget, which includes Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark. This group opposes increasing contributions—meaning less regional funding for poorer members. Germany is generally aligned to the frugal group but accepts contribution increases even if capped at 1% of the bloc’s GDP, as Berlin proposes. However, Merkel is more concerned about retaining rebates for big net contributors like Germany.

Despite seeking to cap the EU budget, Merkel is not believed to be wedded to any particular target for EU regional funding. This gives Orban room to put the case for maintaining regional funding at the current $449 billion, instead of the proposed 10% cut to $382 billion. However, even if Orban successfully persuades Merkel on this point, he is unlikely to stop Brussels from attaching hefty preconditions on future funding for Hungary, given mismanagement scandals in recent years.

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