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Hungarian PM questions Commission's 'legitimacy'

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(BERLIN) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has lashed out at the European Commission, accusing it of lacking "democratic legitimacy", following criticism from Europe over a series of contentious reforms.

"I was elected. The Hungarian government is elected and the European Parliament is elected. But who elected the European Commission?" Orban said in an interview to be published Sunday in German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. "Where is the commission's democratic legitimacy?"

The European Commission, the European Union's executive body, is made up of one member appointed by each of the EU's 27 member states.

Relations between Budapest, the EU and the commission are strained following the implementation this year of a slew of judicial and constitutional reforms in Hungary that critics have said undermine democracy by removing vital checks and balances on the government's power.

The commission last week said it was considering freezing 495 million euros ($655 million) in funds to Hungary, a threat Orban brushed off.

Orban accused the "international left" of picking on his right-wing government and said European leaders have lost faith in what once was the "greatness" of Europe.

Despite his comments, Orban has said he is willing to negotiate with Brussels to modify some of his reforms.

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