Europe’s deal faces dissent from the east

Julian Harris
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EUROPEAN Union efforts to further integrate member states took a blow yesterday, with senior politicians in the Czech Republic and Hungary voicing concerns over a proposed new treaty.

The eastern European states will not be party to a tighter European agreement if it compromises their fiscal independence, it was suggested.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas, head of the conservative Civic Democratic Party, said that proposed fiscal rules to stop states from running up large deficits should only be applied to Eurozone states.

He was speaking after meeting Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán in Budapest. “We support the solutions which result in the stabilisation of the Eurozone -- but we are convinced that tax harmonisation would not mean anything good for us.”

Orbán issued similar sentiments, telling journalists that cooperation with the Eurozone would not be done at the expense of Hungary’s competitiveness.

Earlier in the day the European Central Bank had warned that a new bill in Hungary could pose a risk to the independence of its central bank.

But in a move to smoothe relations with the UK following Prime Minister David Cameron’s veto, the EU has invited the country to participate at some level in talks on a pact with the other 26 members.