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EU: under attack — the principle of consensus

At the meeting of the heads of state and government of the EU countries held on Thursday, its participants were unable to resolve the conflict over the veto imposed by Hungary and Poland on the draft EU budget for subsequent years. The stumbling block here was the plans to put in place a mechanism to protect the rule of law, which assumes that payments from EU funds, including from the fund for economic recovery from the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, will be able to receive only those EU countries that do not violate this principle. Slovenia has now joined Hungary and Poland. As noted by the European press, one of the fundamental principles of the European Union — the principle of consensus — was under attack.

Bypass those who put a spoke in their wheels

MEP Guy Verhofstadt pointed out that EU rules make it possible to establish the work of the economic recovery fund within the framework of cooperation between individual states of the community — according to almost the same model that is used to build cooperation on a common currency. Investor George Soros, in his article, published among other things in the newspaper El Pais, supports this proposal:

“The norms, according to which the observance of the principles of the rule of law will be monitored, have already been adopted. In the event that a new budget agreement is not approved, the old budget agreement expiring at the end of 2020 will be renewed annually. Hungary and Poland will not receive any payments from this budget because their governments violate the principles of the rule of law. According to Guy Verhofstadt's proposal, in a similar way — on the basis of an agreement on deepening cooperation — an economic recovery fund, called the 'Next Generation of the EU', will be able to start work. If the EU goes this way, then it will be possible to bypass Orban-Kaczynski's veto.“

This front won't last long

Der Tagesspiegel doubts that Brussels will be able to maintain its uncompromising attitude on this issue for a long time:

“Poland and Hungary are not alone. In the eyes of a dozen East European countries that have recently joined the EU, the position of its north-western members appears to be full of arrogance, arrogance, and moralizing. These Eastern European countries say: at one time we overthrew the communist dictatorship — Poland and Hungary were in the vanguard here. This group includes 10 out of 27 EU countries. ... For the southern countries of the community, quick payments from the economic recovery fund are much more important than linking with the requirement of the rule of law. It won't be long before they begin to plead with the northwestern countries of the community: we would not want to suffer as a result of this dispute. Find some kind of compromise with the countries of the eastern flank of the EU!“

Orban definitely doesn't think about future generations

The veto is not in Hungary's best interests, writes Nepszava:

“The economic implications of the measures prompted by the second wave of the pandemic are very difficult to assess. And yet, there will always be eternal optimists who dream of a massive vaccination by early next year — and in this regard, hope for economic growth in the range of 10 to 15 percent. However, a prerequisite for this is the receipt of the first tranche from the EU recovery fund in the amount of 16 billion euros. ... meanwhile, the Hungarian government has vetoed the EU budget, as well as payments from a recovery fund called the Next Generation of the EU. Orban and his entourage think only of themselves, not of future generations.“

EU turns into a money distribution machine

Brussels cannot endlessly 'buy' consensus, writes the Neue Zurcher Zeitung:

“The special path followed in terms of the rule of law by the ruling parties of Hungary and Poland is ... a reality with which neither the EU Council nor the European Parliament can do anything. ... Realizing this, it would be necessary to draw final conclusions — and, in general, to curtail large-scale mechanisms for the redistribution of finances in the EU. ... But the EU is doing something exactly the opposite. ... [When creating the fund for economic recovery from the consequences of the coronacrisis] the unresolved issue of the rule of law was ... put on the back burner — in the hope that when rivers of new money flow, sufficient negotiating potential will be formed with the help of which it will become possible reaching any compromises. Thus, the EU is increasingly turning into a kind of money distribution machine, sharpened to ensure the viability of the community solely at the expense of constantly growing financial injections.”

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