Hungary, Poland & Slovenia In Standoff With Brussels Over Money-With-Conditions

ER Editor: We’re putting two articles back to back, with a framing statement of what this story also means by French RN politician (Marine Le Pen’s party), Thierry Mariani:

Translation: Thanks to Hungary and Poland, who have protected national sovereignty with their veto against the European institutions. Those who sneakily look to profit from covid to give themselves more powers. Shame on Macron who, once more, submits to this.


Precisely: we give you money providing you make the fundamental changes we want, all to our benefit.


Slovenia Backs Hungary & Poland In Standoff With Brussels That Is Delaying COVID Relief

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden TYLER DURDEN

Brussels officially has a full-blown populist rebellion on its hands. After Hungary and Poland blocked the EU’s $900 billion COVID-19 recovery package, as well as the seven-year, €1.8 trillion ($2.1 billion) budget over Brussels’ attempt to “force foreign values upon member nations” in a long running dispute over democratic norms, immigration and the “illiberal” tilt of Poland and Hungary.

A clause in the budget would strip Budapest and Warsaw of billions of euros in EU funding if they don’t impose certain measures to strengthen the “rule of law” as Brussels sees fit. Both Hungary and Poland are facing EU “investigations” over allegations they undermined the independence of courts and the media.

The push to bring both Hungary and Poland (which have defied Brussels’ edicts on immigration and other issues) is being led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is enjoying leadership of the EU alongside her chancellorship of Germany during her last year in power before retiring.

Since the unprecedented EU-wide borrowing package requires unanimous consent to move forward, Poland and Hungary’s opposition will force Merkel and her allies to strike some kind of a deal with Hungary and Poland, if not back down, as Brussels accuses Budapest and Warsaw of subjecting their judiciaries to political influence, in defiance of EU principles.

The right-wing rebels received a boost to their cause on Tuesday morning when Slovenia PM Janez Janša announced his support of Hungary and Poland in their standoff with the EU. In a four-page letter, the close friend of Hungary leader Viktor Orbán slammed Brussels’ “double standard” while evoking the authoritarian experience lived under communism by many countries that joined the EU after 2004, which today refuse to cede parts of their sovereignty.

Slovenia backed the budget in a vote yesterday.

For those who haven’t been closely following the issue, MarketWatch has published a briefing on the history of the dispute, and its implications for the future of the EU, as some of Brussels’ most committed globalists push the possibility of simply expelling Hungary and Poland from the bloc. To be sure, any member-state leaving the EU would likely be interpreted as a full-blown crisis by investors now that the EU has kicked open the door.

  • The move by the far-right governments in Budapest and Warsaw comes after months of other EU members’ criticism of measures in both countries subjecting the judiciary to political interference.
  • The principle of an EU €750 billion recovery fund was adopted in July in a decision that would allow massive joint borrowing by all member states, for the first time in the EU’s history. Proceeds of the fund would go in priority to countries worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The two countries’ decision also prevents the adoption of the multiyear, €1,100 billion EU budget, which had taken months to negotiate amid deep differences among member states over fiscal discipline and public spending.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, formally chairing the EU until the end of the year as part of a rotating presidency, is now expected to seek a compromise, since decisions such as joint borrowing must be taken unanimously by the 27 member states.
  • The long-drawn-out dispute over human rights, public freedoms and the rule of law in the two countries has exasperated other governments, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte wondering aloud in September whether an EU “without Hungary and Poland” would be possible.

With drama flaring up across the Atlantic, analysts from Rabobank pointed out that a video summit set for tomorrow, which originally was scheduled to talk about the pandemic, may instead focus on this issue. In a letter to Merkel, Hungary’s Orban said that “there is no deal until there’s agreement on all details.” Whilst that may indicate there is room for negotiation (after all, both countries also look set to receive sizeable funds under the EC proposition), it would likely be on the terms of Poland and Hungary, which are of the opinion that their sovereignty is at stake. So the key question then becomes what the price of sovereignty is. From Brexit we know that price can be very high indeed. Clearly, both member states feel that they have leverage, with many other member states, particularly Italy and Spain, eager to receive EU funds in coming years. Even if some sort of compromise eventually emerges, amidst a resurging virus, this ‘situation’ could well become a ‘risk-off’ element for markets if it drags on for months.

Hungary and Poland opposed the budget and recovery package during a Monday pan-EU meeting where they vetoed the measures, provoking a warning from German ambassador Michael Clauss that their opposition could delay critical COVID-19 recovery funds.

And people complain about the delays to the latest US stimulus plan…



Hungary-led Vetoes Against New EU Budget Further Fragments the Bloc’s Unity

Viktor Orbán, Photo by European People's Party (CC BY 2.0)

Hungary, Poland and Slovenia have blocked the EU’s budget and post-COVID recovery plan in order to oppose conditions that European aid must be connected to “respecting the rule of law.” Budapest, which is leading the veto, blocked the budget after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán warned that he does not support the EU’s attempts of linking the rule of law criterion to budgetary decisions.

Hungarian government spokesman Zoltán Kovács explained on Twitter that “we cannot support the plan in its present form to tie rule of law criteria to budget decisions.” In fact, Hungary was fully aware that its veto would create a crisis in the EU, with Kovács saying:

“[On] whether a Hungarian veto could lead to a crisis? I repeat: The burden of responsibility rests with those who have given rise to this situation in spite of Hungary’s well-articulated stance.”

With emphasis that Hungary is a “dedicated follower of the rule of law” that supports fellow EU Member States, Orbán also explained that Brussels only views

“countries which let migrants in as those governed by the rule of law. Those who protect their borders cannot qualify as countries where rule of law prevails. Once this proposal gets adopted, there will be no more obstacles to tying member states’ share of common funds to supporting migration and use financial means to blackmail countries which oppose migration.”

Representatives of EU Member States were to vote on authorizing an increase in resources in order to finance the post-COVID economic recovery plan. However, this veto has delayed economic recovery in the EU as Orbán fears that the agreement could be weaponized against Hungary for its strong domestic anti-immigration position.

Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Council until the end of 2020, is trying to find a compromise but is visibly not happy with the Orbán-led veto.

“We have already lost a lot of time in the face of the second wave of pandemics and the severe economic damage,” said Michael Clauss, Germany’s ambassador to the EU.

Clément Beaune, French Secretary of State for European Affairs, is optimistic though, assuring that a “solution will be found in the next few weeks.”

However, the reality is that dialogue is broken and neither of the two camps want to give in. It is likely that there is no possibility of concessions, and it will be very difficult to find a solution. Frictions between Brussels and these three central European countries are not new. The crisis between the EU and Hungary even dates back to 2015 when there was a massive influx of migrants coming from Turkey to Central Europe via the Balkan route. This was the first sign of major polar differences within the EU.

On September 29, Orbán demanded the resignation of Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, after she publicly called Hungary a “sick democracy.” The next day, the Commission unveiled its first report on respect for the Rule of Law among the 27 EU Member States, singling out in particular Warsaw and Budapest, accusing them of undermining the independence of the judiciary.

The laborious negotiations on the stimulus plan also testify to these strong tensions. A compromise was reached on July 20 by all the member countries on the conditionality of granting European funds to respect democratic principles. This “respect for the rule of law” and mentions of a “conditionality regime,” without describing precisely how it would be applied, is highly problematic as it can be manipulated in many ways to serve an agenda. According to this provisional agreement, countries violating the rule of law could more easily lose their access to European funds.

This was contested by the Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga, who denounced the “political and ideological blackmail.” Janusz Kowalski, Polish Deputy Minister of State Treasury, was equally dramatic and tweeted:

“VETO or DEATH! Symbol in the fight for Polish sovereignty against Eurocrats and German politicians who disobey European Union treaties.”

When Hungary, Poland and Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, there was no requirement on being open to illegal immigration. Rather, these are later political and ideological developments. However, two opposing conceptions of the EU have emerged and are unlikely going to compromise. Compromising “the rule of law” for the sake of good relations is a short-term policy bound to fail and a long-term strategic weakness.

However, it must also be remembered that Hungary is one of five EU states that vetoed sanctions against Turkey for, among many other things, orchestrating a migrant crisis on Greece’s borders in February and March of this year. In fact, in October 2019, Hungary frustrated the EU when it vetoed a draft text to warn the Turkish government that its Syrian operations could unleash another wave of refugees.

These continuous Hungarian vetoes of sanctions against Turkey are, of course, tied to its absorption into the Turkic sphere of influence, with the Central European country becoming an observer member of the Turkic Council in 2018. Hungary even opened a representative office of the Turkic Council in 2019. Orbán himself promotes the theory that Hungarians are “Kipchak Turks,” a Turkic tribe. Orbán even said that Hungary “is Christian Turkish lands” when speaking at the Hungarian Turan Foundation in March 2019 – Turan being a reference to a pan-Turkic motherland.

Therefore, Orbán’s claims that he is opposing the new budget because of his fear that the EU will force Hungary to accept illegal immigrants is extremely questionable. (ER: or it’s an example of extreme hypocrisy or NIMBY, because Hungary’s reinforced border fence has been extremely effective in keeping illegal migrants out. If Orban doesn’t oppose Turkey’s actions in sending migrants over, he at least knows his own country won’t be affected.) It is more likely that Orbán wants to maintain his grip on power that the EU says is in opposition to their liberal values and Western interpretation of democracy. With this, he also has the support of Poland and Slovenia to oppose the EU’s new budget, which will only descend the bloc into further fragmentation and disunity.


Hungary, Poland & Slovenia In Standoff With Brussels Over Money-With-Conditions

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