Hungary, Poland slam new EU deal linking funds to rule of law

Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki have criticised a newly struck EU deal linking compliance with the rule of law to receiving EU funds, with both politicians hinting at a possible use of veto power.

“There is no time for the discussion on rule of law right now,” Orban told state media on Friday.

It was more important that countries hit hard by the coronavirus crisis would quickly receive funds from the EU budget and recovery package, he said.

“I am talking about the southern European countries here. Hungary has sufficient financial resources for the next two years,” Orban added.

Morawiecki said making budget disbursement conditional on the European Commission’s or other member states’ “idea on how the Polish state functions and on how independent Polish institutions function” was unacceptable.

The European Commission could not arbitrarily decide on withholding disbursement of EU funds arbitrarily based on “dubious criteria,” Morawiecki said.

“We will certainly use our right to object if we do not reach an agreement and the provisions which will be included will not be consistent with our expectations,” Morawiecki said, without explicitly stating that Poland might veto the EU budget.

Likewise, Orban did not expressly say he would use his veto but implied he could, as Hungary is apparently not dependent on EU funds for the next two years, according to an analysis by the news portal

Negotiators from the European Parliament and EU governments agreed on a “general regime of conditionality” on Thursday, which could mean that member states accused of violating rule-of-law basics – such as judicial independence – might lose funds.

Hungary and Poland vehemently oppose the tool and have threatened to block the EU’s budget and recovery package worth 1.8 trillion euros (2.1 trillion dollars), delaying access to much-needed funds beyond the planned January start date.

Both Budapest and Warsaw have been accused of rule-of-law breaches, including in the fields of judicial independence, press freedom and fighting corruption. (dpa/NAN)

Nov 6 2020 @16:57 GMT

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