The great game about European corona aid and the EU budget is over. Hungary and Poland give up their blockade after a compromise negotiated by Germany. Who won?
The way for the EU budget and the billions in Corona aid is free. At their summit in Brussels on Thursday, the heads of state or government reached agreement on a compromise on the new rule of law mechanism negotiated by the German presidency. President of the EU Council Charles Michel announced this on Twitter in the evening. Previously, Hungary and Poland had blocked important decisions for weeks. Both countries fear that the mechanism is intended to cut EU funds for them due to controversial political projects.
Rule of law supplemented with an additional statement
The compromise now stipulates that the new procedure for penalizing violations of the rule of law is supplemented with an additional statement. It defines, among other things, what options Hungary and Poland have to defend against the application of the Regulation. One of these is a revision of the regulation for the procedure by the European Court of Justice. She would probably delay the first use of the technique by months, if not more than a year.
Moreover, it is reiterated that a finding of a violation of the rule of law alone is not enough to reduce EU financial support. Therefore, it should be clearly stated that the breach has a negative effect on the use of EU money. In addition, it should be noted again that Heads of State or Government should deal with the issue in disputes.
If there had been no agreement, the EU would not have had some sort of emergency budget until January. Many programs could not have started. In addition, a way would have to be found to organize the Corona economic stimulus program of up to EUR 750 billion without Poland and Hungary. Countries that have been badly affected by the Corona crisis and at the same time have a debt problem, such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium, depend on the aid.
Veto through Hungary and Poland
EU countries agreed on the new mechanism at the end of October, against the wishes of Hungary and Poland. The governments in Budapest and Warsaw then vetoed unanimous budget decisions to enforce changes. They fear that the new procedure will mainly be used against them. They have long been accused of unnecessarily expanding their influence over the judiciary. In addition, restrictions on media freedom and insufficient protection of minorities are criticized.
The outstanding decisions on EU finances for the coming years and Corona aid will be taken by the EU Council of Ministers and the EU Parliament in the coming days. However, no more problems are expected there, as agreement has already been reached on all important questions in recent weeks.