BERLIN / BRUSSELS (dpa-AFX) – After the blockade of the EU budget and the Corona economic aid by Hungary and Poland, a video summit on Thursday evening did not bring a solution. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) reported to the other heads of state and government because Germany currently chairs the 27 countries. According to information from EU circles, Hungary and Poland reaffirmed their blockade stance.
After a short debate, the actual agenda went on without a breakthrough: coordination in the Corona crisis. It was about the mutual recognition of corona tests, the preparations for vaccinations and a common approach to lifting corona restrictions, as EU Council leader Charles Michel announced. The budget dispute, however, overshadowed this debate.
Hungary and Poland vetoed a central budget decision on Monday. They come up against a new clause to reduce funds in the event of certain violations of the rule of law in the recipient countries. With her no, the entire 1.8 trillion euro budget package is blocked for the next seven years for the time being. That includes 750 billion euros in corona aid, which many EU countries are urgently hoping for.
A video conference is just not the right format to resolve the complicated dispute, said an EU official. Council chief Michel had contacted all countries in advance to keep the discussion “under control”. However, the situation is serious. The heavy budget package that was basically agreed in July must be implemented as quickly as possible.
Germany and other countries have asked Hungary and Poland to give in – so far in vain. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said Germany was looking for a solution in its role as the EU presidency. But that is not done publicly. Maas emphasized that many EU states were not ready to make major compromises on the rule of law. “This is a very difficult situation we are in,” said the SPD politician.
The new rule of law clause had already been agreed in principle in July, when the heads of state and government tied the EUR 1.8 trillion budget package at a five-day summit. But the formulation was very vague at the time. Hungary and Poland complain that the agreements at the time were not implemented correctly. The German EU Council Presidency negotiated the details with the European Parliament.
The EU Parliament does not want to move away from it, as President David Sassoli declared together with the group leaders. The CSU politician Manfred Weber, parliamentary group leader of the European People’s Party, said he could not understand why Poland and Hungary complained about the clause. In the end, every country has the opportunity to appeal to the European Court of Justice against the reduction of funds.
The Green politician Franziska Brantner called the veto by Hungary and Poland a “slap in the face for all Europeans”. Merkel shouldn’t buckle. The SPD politician Achim Post said that if there was no common solution, one also had to explore ways of circumventing the veto and starting corona development funds anyway.
The EU Commission has repeatedly criticized Poland and Hungary for violating the rule of law, including the restructuring of the judiciary. Both states could therefore be affected by the rule of law mechanism.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday that the issue had “become a propaganda stick in the EU”. He spoke of a turning point in the history of the EU. “Decisions based on arbitrary arrangements can easily lead to their disintegration.” Poland demands equal treatment of all EU members.
The Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa had expressed sympathy for the attitude of Hungary and Poland in the past few days. According to information from EU circles, he also spoke at the video summit. However, Slovenia did not veto the budget vote of the member states on Monday./vsr/DP/he