EU’s attempt to drive a wedge between Poland and Hungary falls flat

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Recent reports about a rift between Hungary and Poland concerning their united stance against the EU’s budget and post-pandemic recovery funds being tied to the rule-of-law mechanism have proved to be a media scuttlebutt. For those hoping that the European Parliament’s recent recommendation to reign in some EU members opposed to mass migration and multiculturalism via financial incentives or sanctions will come to fruition, a statement made by Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin offered a glimmer of hope. Some news outlets have even announced that “Poland [is] ready to drop EU budget veto for EU summit declaration on rule of law.”
Deputy Prime Minister Gowin had recently stated that “it is in the interest of all… to find a good compromise. Such a compromise is possible… through a binding declaration interpreting [the rule of law]… The interpretative declaration could be… a clear statement from the European Council that the conditionality rule would not be used to exert unjustified pressure on individual member states in areas other than the proper use of EU funds”. AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski The leader of the Polish ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynskileft, speaks to reporters alongside and the leaders of two junior coalition partners, Jaroslaw Gowin, right, in Warsaw, Poland. Such a move, however, albeit possible via legal loopholes in EU treaties, may violate the very principle it is claiming to stand up for, and may result in accusations of bypassing proper mechanisms of the rule-of-law within the EU itself. Apart from risking a loss of credibility as far as historic European treaties are concerned, it may also unwittingly start a process of the EU’s further disintegration.
If an emergency mechanism should be agreed on with the exclusion of the EU’s two protesting members, Hungary and Poland could find themselves excluded from not only the disbursement of emergency funds, but would effectively be exempt from the long-term debt repayment mechanism as well.
In the words of Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, the criticism his country is facing is hypocritical as there are parties that press the issue of the rule-of-law, who are themselves on route to violating EU treaties by taking away competences from Hungary that are guaranteed by international treaties.
“It is clear that the rule-of-law debate will simplify to a point of who will accept migrants and who will not,” Szijjártó said.
An indication of this is the so called post-Cotonou agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. These negotiations have described migration only in positive terms without a reference to its security and health implications. They did not even mention the fact that some countries actually oppose mass migration, stated the Hungarian minister. Angela Merkel is reportedly taking a softer stance than Ursula von der Leyen The importance, but also the ambiguity, of the statement has been readily inflated by major European media outlets that have suggested that cracks may have appeared in the historic alliance between Hungary and Poland over the rule-of-law mechanism in connection with the EU’s €1.8 trillion budget and economic recovery fund. Although these conclusions have proven to be false, they have prompted some clarification between the two Visegrád Four allies.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, when asked about the possible change in the Polish stance during a radio interview , had reaffirmed that a common declaration between the two countries states that they will only vote for an EU budget proposal that is acceptable for both parties, and that both parties plan to respect the spirit of this agreement.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller later also assured Hungary that Warsaw “maintains its position in its entirety” regarding the EU funds. “Only provisions consistent with the treaties and conclusions of the European Council are acceptable to Poland. This is also clear from the joint declaration of Poland and Hungary.”
While there may be some behind-the-scene attempts to rock the Hungarian-Polish coalition and to force the two governments to accept the rule-of-law clause proposed by the European Parliament, a compromise seems to be so far removed from reality that currently this topic is not even in the official schedule for the EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels scheduled for Dec. 10-11.
Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel had signaled that her government is willing to make some compromises in the matter, her former minister, Ursula von der Leyen, who is currently the president and the European Commission, prefers a harder stance to solve the dispute. She had proposed to bypass the veto mechanism by an agreement between the remaining 25 EU member states, that would allow the distribution of the €750 billion recovery fund.

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