Hungary and Poland claim victory in rule-of-law negotiations

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Following crunch talks, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki celebrated what they said was a victory in negotations over the rule-of-law conditionarly mechanism, which both governments feared would give Brussels control over policies regarding migration, abortion rights, gender issues, judicial reform, and much more in member states.
Although the exact details of the agreement have not been finalized, Orban said that both Hungary and Poland had what they wanted.
“We’ve won. In a difficult period of pandemic, economic crisis, there’s no time to continue political and ideological debates that prevent us from acting,” said Orban.
A joint press conference involving Orban and Morawiecki held a presser. Orbán said that common sense prevailed and that they achieved three important goals during their negotiations with the EU.
“We defended the European Constitution. We did not allow them to go around it,” said Orbán regarding the first goal, and regarding the second, he added, “”We prevented the danger of using budgetary measures to pressure Hungarians into taking decisions that we do not want.”
“And ultimately, we defended the Hungarian funds, which will be needed in the coming years for economic development.”

While the language regarding the rule-of-law mechanism has reportedly been watered down, the rule-of-law sanctions mechanism is still expected to be a potential danger for both countries. In fact, politicians who have pursued Hungary and Poland most aggressively, are also cheering what they view was the outcome of the rule-of-law debate.

Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People’s Party, which has suspended the membership of Fidesz, took to social media to celebrate along with Petri Sarvamaa, an MEP and a negotatior on rule of law.
In the new deal, Poland and Hungary will have the right to challenge rule-of-law decisions in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which could delay any negative judgements for months and even years. However, there are fears that both countries are just buying time until they face the inevitable fallout from tying their share of the EU budget to rule-of-law decisions, although the exact wording of the agreement has not yet been released.

Polish Deputy Minister of Justice Marcin Romanowski, who is critical of the agreement struck, wrote on Twitter that the deal is not a good one: “The adoption of a regulation linking the budget with ideology is a consent to dependence on the political whims of the European establishment. However, the possible conclusions of the European Council are only a political resolution which cannot change the law, which is the regulation.”

He wrote that the law will not change despite the claims of Hungary and Poland, as the European Council is simply offering a political resolution that will not have any real say on what the final law is.

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