BUDAPEST Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that he would not support the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker for EU Commission president.
Orban acknowledged Juncker would probably be elected with an overwhelming majority. Juncker's nomination will be discussed on the second day of an EU summit, which began on Thursday.
"I will not support this decision," Orban told public radio in an interview. He reiterated that Budapest rejected any "sneaking" changes to an EU treaty, referring to the selection process for picking the EU Commission's new president.
"There is a bad practice in Brussels, which is called sneaking treaty change," Orban said. "Issues are being wrestled from member states, which, under the treaty, clearly belong to member states.
"Hungary has suffered a lot because of this," Orban said citing the example of Hungary’s bank tax, "crisis" taxes or land reforms. Those came under EU scrutiny, but Orban said Hungary had a right to implement them.
Orban said EU federalism was not in Hungary's interests.
"I want to send a very clear signal with my vote that Hungary does not accept the continuation of this practice," he said.
Asked whether any last-minute concession could change his mind, Orban said Hungary was not in a position to cut deals.
"We need to send a clear signal and a warning that we must stick to our national interests. And the British think the same," Orban said.
He added that Budapest would aim to co-operate with the new Commission president after the vote, but only in a way that serves Hungary's interests.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Larry King; Editing by Nick Macfie)