Poland, Hungary moving deeper into isolation in European Union - senior EU diplomat

Poland, Hungary moving deeper into isolation in European Union - senior EU diplomat

Hungarian and Polish leaders on Thursday maintained their opposition to the EU's proposals for its long-term budget and coronavirus recovery package, insisting the funds must be separated from rule-of-law conditions.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday his country would have Poland's backing in the continued row over the pair's recent blocking of the 1.8 trillion euros worth of European Union funds vital to restart the economies of the 27 member states.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer confirmed von der Leyen, the EU's chief executive, had received the letter, and he said the position of the Commission has not changed.

The European Union is now investigating both nationalist governments for undermining the independence of their judiciaries and media.

"Those who conflate these two issues (rule of law and crisis funding) are irresponsible as at a time of crisis rapid decisions are needed to aid the economy".

Speaking to the media after the meeting, the pair said that they were "defending the sovereignty of European countries".

"That is the place where we usually thrash out differences of opinion regarding legal texts", she told European Parliament members, in reference to the European Court of Justice.

Earlier this week, President Von der Leyen of the European Commission suggested that Poland and Hungary could go to the European Court if they do not agree with the rule of law test, but that suggestion was not taken up on Thursday. Orban said he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel this month that signing up to conditionality was tantamount to "suicide", the Die Zeit newspaper cited him as saying.

Orban said the debate was not about the rule of law but about the "rule of the majority".

Poland, along with Hungary, oppose a proposed mechanism attached to the budget that would allow for member states to be denied to members who do not meet democratic standards.

Their veto is likely to significantly delay the adoption of the EU's 1.8 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion) plan.

The two countries say they risk being singled out if there is conditionality on funding since both have been accused by Brussels of rolling back democratic freedoms. In that scenario, the bloc would operate under an emergency monthly budget, with the rule-of-law conditions still applying.

With the veto, "We are defending the unity of the union", Morawiecki said.

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