European funds for Poland and Hungary on the brink

A new idea is gaining ground in Brussels: Poland and Hungary should stay out of the post-covid recovery fund if they are not willing to lift their budget veto. And one of the instigators of this measure is the liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt. According to him, the two countries will end up harming their own citizens.

“It is the first time, I have to tell you, that in the budget negotiations I see a country blocking it because it receives money. So what they are doing, in reality, is penalizing their own citizens. And if that is not possible, why not I see another way out, so we must start with a reinforced cooperation based on Article 326 of the Treaty, which provides the possibility, for example, for the other 25 Member States to go ahead with the recovery fund, without Poland and without Hungary, “he explains Verhofstadt.

Brussels wants to link European funds to respect for democratic standards. Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, says there is enormous pressure from the public for that to happen.

“In most countries, 60-70% of normal people believe that it is absolutely normal that we stop the transfer of money to a country that does not apply the rule of law, democracy and is in the hands of corrupt people. Because not only the question of the rule of law, it is also a question of corruption. The last OLAF report was very clear about this. At the top of the Union’s corruption list is Hungary. That is undoubtedly a responsibility of the Mr. Orbán, “insisted the Belgian politician.

But Hungarian and Polish leaders say Brussels is using the rule of law bond as a political weapon. In a radio interview, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán compared the EU to the Soviet Union when talking about this link.

“I think this is a scandalous comparison because you have really forgotten that in the Soviet Union there were dictators who killed their people. Historians agree that more than 20 million people died under the rule of the Soviet Union. Compare this system Such a tyranny to a democratic project, a peace project such as the European Union – I find it scandalous, “denounced Verhofstadt.

The German presidency says it is approaching a budget deal, but Verhofstadt believes the rule of law criteria will not be watered down.