29 November 2020
According to EU Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania have failed to observe the values of rule of law. Countries like Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and Malta have failed in providing media freedom. This is also considered as a breach of rule of law. EU wants to defend its integrity on freedom of the press, independence of judiciary and the sale of golden passports.
The EU released a rule of law report in September 2020. EU has the power to apply sanctions, including cutting off of financial support for those breaching the rule of law principles. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has vehemently protested this report and has called on Germany not to link the European Union’s budget to the upholding of rule of law in the bloc.
Hungary and Poland vetoed proposals that would make it possible for countries that fail to meet EU rule of law standards to be denied access to funds from the bloc’s next budget and from a 750 billion euro pandemic recovery fund and up to 1.8 trillion euros ($2.14 trillion) of EU funds to lift the economy of the 27-nation bloc. Orban proposed that the rule of law mechanism should be postponed until after the budget had been settled. In the meantime Poland and Hungary will also block the budget.
Orban’s critics say that he and his allies have financially benefited from EU funding that has been distributed in nontransparent ways.
European Commission told the European Parliament that Hungary and Poland should take their objections to the EU Court of Justice and not block the budget.
The raw between Hungary and Poland and EU will not be settled in the short term. But it will test the integrity of the union. It could also tear up the EU budget and Europe’s ability to recover from the pandemic.
The pegging of the rule of law conditionality mechanism onto the EU budget is not an unanimous agreement between the EU27 minus Hungary and Poland. On the contrary, it is only a minority of countries including Germany and the Netherlands, are in favour of this mechanics.
Portugal’s former Foreign Minster Paulo believes that his country could also be the target of such sanctions in the future.