The talks on the long-term budget (2021—2027)— which involve the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission — come amid a long-running dispute between countries and MEPs regarding spending and respect for the rule of law.
After much wrangling, in July, European leaders finally agreed on the amount the EU can spend over the next seven years. However, the budget approval, which needs a unanimous vote from all 27 members, has reached an impasse due to the disagreement regarding the controversial requirement tying each country’s budget allotment to its respect for the rule of law.
Hungary and Poland blocked approval of the EU’s long-term budget on Monday.
In one of his interviews, Hungarian government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said the recent changes to the rule of law proposal amounted to “political blackmailing.”
“We have not changed our stance on these issues,” Kovacs told Euronews. He claimed that the responsibility for the budget being blocked lies with ‘those who have created the situation we are in now.’
Mr. Kovacs pointed out that the new requirement goes against the EU agreement regarding the EU budget. If the EU wishes to add new conditions to EU funding, a treaty change is required. He also put forward another of the Hungarian government’s objections to the new requirement: the recent proposal did not include “objective criteria.”
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki threatened a veto last week. “The question is whether Poland… will be subject to political and institutionalized enslavement,” Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s justice minister, said Monday. “Because this is not about the rule of law, which is just a pretext, but it is really an institutional enslavement, a radical limitation on sovereignty,” he asserted.
“It’s an attempt to make the EU budget allocations dependent on something contrary to the treaties, and therefore illegal,” said Saryusz-Wolski, one of Poland’s EU parliamentarians. The politician emphasized that the rule of law’s criteria are unclear and, therefore, may be used unfairly. “They want to impose some arbitrary sanctioning of countries based on unclear and fuzzy criteria in an area that is not at all the competence of the European Union and the European Commission,” said Mr. Saryusz-Wolski.
Both Poland and Hungary are concerned that the vague requirement is another tool in the hands of the left-leaning mainstream EU establishment to be used as needed to blackmail more conservative member countries, such as Poland and Hungary, and force them to toe the line drawn by them.
As Mr. Saryusz-Wolski also noted, “a veto is an available and commonly used technique in Brussels; it has been used many times by various member countries.” “So”, he said, “there is no reason to treat Monday’s veto by Poland and Hungary as something out of the ordinary.