BUDAPEST (Reuters) - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso asked Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to withdraw a draft law critics say would threaten the central bank’s independence, website origo.hu reported late on Monday.
Orban’s spokesman Peter Szijjarto confirmed to national news agency MTI overnight that Barroso had sent the premier a letter over the weekend but said the government was not authorised to divulge its contents.
A Commission spokesman told Reuters the letter has been sent but did not immediately comment on its contents.
According to the Origo report, Barroso asked Orban to withdraw the legislation on the central bank as well as a ‘stability law’ proposed earlier this month to tie the pace of debt reduction to economic growth.
“I would forcefully advise you to withdraw two pieces of cardinal law now in front of parliament,” origo.hu, which said it saw the letter, reported Barroso as writing.
The two pieces of legislation needed to conform to European Union norms before being passed, Barroso was quoted as saying.
Hungary’s government submitted a bill on the central bank last week, prompting criticism from the European Central Bank and its IMF/EU negotiating partners, who cut short informal talks in Budapest about financial assistance on Friday.
The ruling Fidesz party proposed amendments to the law on Monday but left some key pieces unchanged.
Origo.hu also cited Barroso as saying Hungary’s economic problems were largely of its own making.
“Hungary’s financial and economic problems can primarily be traced back to domestic political decisions and measures, therefore a potential programme must contain solutions accordingly,” Barroso wrote to Orban.
Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by John Stonestreet