Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Orban Says “Nem!” To Sarkozy

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By Matthew Dalton

Since taking office last year, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has gained a reputation as a man unafraid to push back against European Union institutions and large EU nations. Last night’s EU summit meeting featured another example of Mr. Orban’s fearless style, this time with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as the target.

According to people familiar with the incident, Mr. Sarkozy took the microphone and delivered a long speech arguing in favor of the “competitiveness pact,” the newly-signed pledge by euro-zone countries to align their policies on wage-setting, budget-writing, pensions and other areas that have in the past largely been the responsibility of national governments.

Signing on to the pact, Mr. Sarkozy said, is a prerequisite for non-euro-zone countries such as Hungary to be allowed into the currency bloc.

After Mr. Sarkozy finished, Mr. Orban said simply: ‘Because I listened to Mr. Sarkozy, I tell you that Hungary won’t participate!” That’s according to Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, who recounted the exchange with some amusement at a press briefing Friday morning.

This is just the latest clash between Orban and the EU’s powers that be. Orban’s government has sought to slash the salaries of senior officials at its central bank, a potential violation of EU rules requiring national central banks to be independent; it has imposed several taxes that the European Commission has said may violate EU rules;  and a new law passed by the government that would fine media outlets for “unbalanced” coverage has been sharply criticized across the EU.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Written by Theophyle

April 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm

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