HS interview MEP Petri Sarvamaa prepares for the most important negotiations in his career: “It will not work if our basic values ​​are crushed openly and peeed in the eye”

The Coalition Party’s Petri Sarvamaa is negotiating a rule of law mechanism that would prevent the misuse of budget funds. It depends on the mechanism whether hundreds of billions of EU emergency funding will be distributed.

Brussels

“This is a huge thing. It would be in the career of any MEP. I am a bull’s eye, and of course it tickles. “

Coalition MEP Petri Sarvamaa sits in the café of the European Parliament in Brussels and prepares for the most important negotiations of his career.

This week, Sarvamaa has started his contract as the chief negotiator of the European Parliament on the rule of law on the rule of law. It is intended to prevent the misuse of EU budget funds, for example due to corruption or problems with the impartiality of the judiciary.

The rule of law mechanism is important in itself, but negotiated tying is only becoming interesting. The mechanism is linked to the € 750 billion recovery package negotiated in July and the EU’s seven-year budget. In short: if the negotiations in Sarvamaa fail, no one will drop money.

“I am confident that when we get to mid-November, so the phone has started to ring pretty interesting addresses.”

“Hundreds of billions of euros have gone from our common bag to a Member State that shows us the middle finger.”

I dispute at the heart are Hungary and Poland, whose authoritarian development the European Union has been trying to address for years. In punitive actions requiring unanimity, Hungary and Poland take turns rescuing each other’s spines.

Sarvamaa has followed the development of the EU in recent years with concern. He sits in Parliament’s budget committees and monitors the use of EU money. The situation does not look good.

“Hundreds of billions of euros have gone from our common bag to a Member State that shows us the middle finger. The Member State says that we are doing what we want here. You have no weapons to intervene in whether we have corruption or an independent judiciary. ”

Last spring in The New York Times news large amounts of agricultural subsidies that went to those in power in Hungary and outright corruption. Similar bubbles were found in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria, for example.

In the 2015 and 2016 immigration crisis, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán launched a campaign against the leaders of the EU at the time. In the corona crisis, Orbán introduced exceptional law, which offered him unlimited powers. The activities of the media and NGOs are limited.

In Poland, an independent court has been jeopardized by, among other things, arbitrary pension laws. They have been convicted by the European Court of Justice. The position of sexual and gender minorities has weakened.

The most recent raptures are from the last couple of weeks. Poland and Hungary said they would set up a think tank in Brussels to fight the “liberal mainstream” and “pro-immigration” in Brussels. Mr Orbán also called for the resignation of the Commissioner for the Rule of Law, who had described Hungary as a “sick democracy” in a press interview.

Sarvamaa got its share last May when Hungary demanded his apology. The apology concerned Sarvamaa’s comments on the Hungarian pandemic emergency.

“You never know what kind of politicians will come to power anywhere. A similar situation may arise in Finland. ”

According to Sarvamaa, the apology to researchers and the media, such as Helsingin Sanomat, was “a systematic and carefully considered part of the strategy of those in power in Hungary”.

“A very similar strategy has been and will be seen in Russia by the Kremlin. Let’s paint a picture of the enemies of the motherland, from whom the ruling one, in this case the Hungarian Orbán, protects. ”

Sarvamaa was not surprised by the request, but became sad.

“At that point, one again stops to think that such a bad situation really exists in an EU Member State.”

Horn the negotiations are overshadowed by recent threats from Poland and Hungary. In order to finance recovery, Member States have yet to approve the related budget ceilings at national level. Both countries have said that if they do not like the rule of law mechanism, parliaments will overthrow the budget decision for the recovery package.

Sarvamaa points out that, although Poland and Hungary are the loudest, the mechanism, if implemented, would combat violations and political abuses by all Member States.

“You never know what kind of politicians will come to power anywhere. A similar situation may arise in Finland, Germany or even Sweden. ”

The talks, which began on Monday, will try to rub a compromise between the European Commission’s original bill, the Member States’ proposal and Parliament’s positions. The German presidency brought the table to the table compromise proposal, which dilutes important points for Finland, for example.

Sarvamaa and another chief negotiator, a Spaniard Eider Gardiazabal Rubialin Parliament’s line is the strictest of the proposals.

In the German negotiating proposal, the mechanism would only be triggered if an infringement was identified. Parliament would also like the increased threat of breaches of the rule of law to be justified. Parliament also hopes that reverse qualified majority voting will be used. This means that the mechanism will proceed unless a majority of countries oppose it.

“If the centrifugal force continues, then we will no longer be in the same gang in five or ten years.”

It was whatever the outcome, it would be the first law on violations of the rule of law that would not require unanimity. That would be historic in the EU.

“Unfortunately, I have no illusion that we could stop this development altogether. We need to make this regulation for the EU, otherwise the bottom will crumble at the same time. ”

The options are drastic. Sarvamaa sees that centrifugal force is taking the pieces away and the Union does not necessarily have a future as we know it.

“If the centrifugal force continues, then we will no longer be in the same gang in five or ten years.”

Horn the home party, the Coalition Party, has fought its own, long battle against Orbán’s party, Fidesz. Fidesz sits with the Coalition in the same European center-right party group in the EPP.

The Coalition Party has been one of the initiators to finally separate Fidesz from the group. Fidesz membership has been suspended, but a final vote has not been possible because of the corona. Parliamentary cooperation with Fidesz has virtually broken down.

“In five years, it has become a situation that in a normal conversation you have come across a wall and they don’t really look you in the eye. Of course, there are exceptions, ”says Sarvamaa.

Sarvamaa has been a Member of the European Parliament for almost nine years. Prior to that, he worked as a television journalist and correspondent. He says that working at the heart of the EU is not frustrating, on the contrary.

“The risk is that the EU will be left alone in the global game. Therefore, it must be unified, strong and powerful. I want to work for that, ”he says.

“It won’t work if our core values ​​are crushed quite openly and peeed in the eye. Let’s say we take the money but we don’t have to answer for it. It fights against all justice and reasonableness. ”

Petri Sarvamaa

Born in 1960 in Joensuu.

A 25-year career as a television journalist and correspondent.

Coalition Party parliamentary election candidate 2011.

He moved from a deputy seat to a Member of the European Parliament in 2012. He also rose to the EU Parliament in 2014 from his reserve position to replace Alexander Stubb.

Elected to the EU Parliament in the 2019 elections. Works in the Committee on Budgetary Control and Agriculture.

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