BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders made no progress toward resolving a dispute to unlock a 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.1 trillion) budget and pandemic recovery package which is held up by Poland’s and Hungary’s rejection of a linkage between rule of law standards and budget disbursements.
Instead, they were happy to hand the work over to veteran power broker Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and likely push it toward another summit next month, only weeks before the new 7-year budget is to come into force on January, 2021.
Hungary and Poland on Monday blocked the adoption of the 2021-2027 budget and recovery fund by European Union governments because the budget law included a clause which makes access to money conditional on respecting the rule of law.
The Polish and Hungarian veto will now be discussed at a meeting of EU European affairs ministers and then at a video-conference of EU leaders on Thursday. But finding a solution might take longer than that.
The veto is likely to cause a delay in the launch of the 1.8 trillion euro package that combines the EU’s long-term budget and the bloc’s economic recovery plan, but is unlikely to derail it altogether, a senior French official said.
European leaders could push ahead with a post-Corona-virus recovery fund and European Union budget without Hungary and Poland as a last resort should they continue to block the adoption of the bloc’s long-term budget, according to a French official.
The governments in Budapest and Warsaw oppose linking EU money and respect for the rule of law as they face a formal EU investigation over undermining the independence of courts, media and non-government bodies.
French officials say they are still trying to persuade Poland and Hungary to lift their veto and unblock the adoption of the 750 billion euro ($889 billion) recovery package and the 1.1 trillion euro budget ahead of Thursday’s summit of EU leaders.
If this doesn’t work, and we’re not there yet, the possibility of resorting to a deal without all 27 countries is one of the options on the table,” the adviser to President Emmanuel Macron said, speaking on background.
One solution could be to use a so-called “enhanced cooperation” procedure whereby some EU countries can decide to move ahead with a particular policy on their own.
That would mean Poland and Hungary would lose access to tens of billions of euros in EU funds. France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, told senators Paris would not give up on linking EU funds to respect for the rule of law.
Associated Press Link / ABC Flash Point News 2020.