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Hungary covers up some anti-EU posters during Manfred Weber's visit

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Hungary covers up some anti-EU posters during Manfred Weber's visit
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Ferenc Rónay
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Hungary's anti-EU billboards were covered up as the man tipped to be the new European Commission chief rolled into Budapest.

They were concealed on the road from the airport into the city centre — but only in one direction as the photo above shows.

The cover-up happened as Manfred Weber, leader of the European People's Party, the largest group in the European Parliament, arrived in the Hungarian capital.

Weber was there on Tuesday to try and resolve a rift with Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz's party over the anti-EU and anti-Soros billboard campaign.

Weber told reporters "We had talks in a constructive atmosphere but the problems are not yet solved."

The posters show US philanthropist George Soros and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and accuse them of supporting illegal migration. They read: "You have a right to know what Brussels is planning."

Some billboards were covered up but only the ones facing Weber on his way from the airport to the meeting, as documented by Euronews photographer Ferenc Rónay.

Hungary's fallout with the EU

The meeting was the first since Weber issued an ultimatum to Orban to honour EPP principals and let the Central European University, founded by George Soros, keep its American-accredited courses in Budapest.

Budapest has said the billboards will be replaced this week with others promoting Orban's plan to increase the birth rate, but on Wednesday pro-government media continued to publish the anti-EPP and Soros message.

A separate letter, written by Orban, repeated the same claim that the European Commission plans to support immigration.

"I write to you know because of the worrying development of the migration crisis," the leaflet tells Hungarians. "Brussels did not learn anything from the horrifying terror attack in the recent/past years. They want to bring more migrants to Europe. Bureaucrats are preparing to incite migration with new measures."

In response to the adverts, the Commission published a document listing the "reality" of Hungary's claims, which included the status of refugees.

European Parliament election

Ahead of May's European Parliament election, which could alter the bloc's political make-up, the EPP will decide next week whether to keep Orban's populist Fidesz party on board.

The EPP groups around 80 parties across Europe and is the biggest in the bloc. Some 13 EPP members want Hungary ousted from the grouping due to ongoing clashes with the EU.

Weber said this week's talks with Orban were "a work in progress" and declined to comment further.

The party has previously said it does not want to leave the EPP and its goal is for "anti-immigration forces to gain strength within the EPP".

The Hungarian government told Euronews in a statement: "The hoarding campaign will finish on 15 March 2019. After that members of the public will see hoardings promoting the government’s family protection action plan."