BERLIN (Reuters) - Suggestions that a requirement of adherence to the rule of law were introduced into proposals for the next European Union budget secretly, over the objections of some leaders, are not true, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday.
In an implicit rebuke to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who last week accused the European Parliament of adding a stipulation that payment of EU funds can be frozen if recipient countries do not reach minimum rule of law standards, Merkel said this had been the intention from the very beginning.
"I do want to make quite clear that the idea that linking conditionality with the budget was brought in by the back door - that is not true," she told a video conference of legislators from across the continent.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Joseph Nasr; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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