The EU could begin issuing statements on behalf of 26 members rather than all 27 following a series of vetoes by Hungary on a range of issues, an EU diplomat told journalists on Friday (21 May).
The remark follows a number of vetoes by Hungary at the EU level on matters of foreign affairs. In April it blocked a European Union statement criticising China’s security law in Hong Kong, on 18 May it declined to join the other 26 foreign ministers in calling for a truce in the Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Then on Friday Hungary said it cannot approve the EU trade and development accord with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries because it would bring more migrants into the bloc.
Asked how the other EU countries felt about the Hungarian vetoes, an EU diplomat who asked not to be named said that the rest of the bloc was not pleased.
However, he then hedged his comments, saying that this was not a completely new situation, and that other countries in the past had posed an obstacle in a different context, such as the Netherlands having blocked the ratification of the Association Agreement with Ukraine.
The diplomat added however that the difference appears to be that the Netherlands made efforts to solve the situation, and eventually did.
“Most member states that have an issue are looking for ways to solve that issue. We have not seen that from Hungary”, the diplomat said, adding “that is a pity and it worries us”.
“We consistently agree on very important international issues with 26 and we cannot agree at 27. It is not good. The option of doing statements at 26 is certainly there, but it’s not preferable”, he said, adding “this not we as the EU, would want to be”.
However, the diplomat said that in his judgement, it wouldn’t really matter if for example the EU declaration on Hong Kong received the backing of 27 or 26 member states.
“It would not weaken the EU globally”, he added. But he repeated that there were genuine concerns.
“It’s against the spirit of the EU. We try to accommodate the views of countries with single issues, but we expect these individual states to come with constructive ideas to solve the issue, and I would like to see more of that from Budapest”, he said.
[Edited by Josie Le Blond]