RIGA - It is currently hard to predict whether European Union (EU) leaders will take the decision to open accession talks with Ukraine at their year-end meeting or not, European Parliament member Sandra Kalniete (New Unity) said in an interview on TV3 channel Friday.
According to the Latvian MEP, Hungary is blackmailing the rest of the EU in a bid to secure EUR 13 billion worth of "frozen" EU funding. The European Commission has offered to unblock some of this money, but the question is whether this will be enough for Hungary to vote in favor of opening the negotiations with Ukraine.
Kalniete noted that Ukraine's position on EU funding for Ukraine could still be dealt with but that Hungary's consent to opening accession negotiations is critical.
Kalniete added that there is also an opinion within the EU that the European Commission should "tighten the screws" on Hungary and speak from this position, but overall it is difficult to predict the outcome of the situation at the moment.
Asked whether these circumstances do not suggest that the EU should move away from unanimous decisions, Kalniete said that the number of EU countries has become very large, making consensus decisions very difficult to make. Although the Latvian government's position is to not support the abandoning of unanimity in EU votes, I would support it, said Kalniete, who has decided to stand also in the next European Parliament elections.
The EU has blocked EUR 22 billion in cohesion funds for Hungary until the country can prove that it has made reforms to ensure the independence of judges, the rights of LGBTQI+ minorities and the independence of academic staff.