The European Union is in turmoil after Poland and Hungary halted the coronavirus relief plan

The European Union is in turmoil after Poland and Hungary halted the coronavirus relief plan

The states opposed a provision linking aid to respect for democratic norms.

The European Union plunged into a political crisis on Monday when two member states blocked its membership Corona Virus The recovery plan after objections to a clause requiring economic assistance for the state’s respect for democratic standards.

The historic relief package of 750 billion euros (or $ 888 billion), part of the total EU budget of $ 2.1 trillion, will distribute the money to the organization’s 27 member states.

“We have lost a lot of time already in light of the second pandemic wave and severe economic damage,” Germany’s ambassador to the European Union, Michael Klaus, who presided over a meeting on Monday where Hungary and Poland objected to the budget agreement, told the BBC. mentioned.

“It is important that the whole package is now adopted quickly, otherwise the European Union will face a serious crisis,” he added.

Over the past decade, Hungary and Poland have faced international scrutiny for political encroachment on the media and justice systems. Both countries are still under Investigation By the European Union for violating its established democratic rules.

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Melissa Huber, director of the human rights and civil society program at Human Rights First, told ABC News that it is not surprising that Poland and Hungary block a budget linked to a dedicated clause Respect for the rule of law.

“It is a messaging tool that they are trying to deliver to the European Union, and they don’t want the European Union to interfere in their internal procedures or internal policymaking regarding their judicial apparatus, regarding the way they deal with the media – basically it said,” their treatment of their democratic institutions.

The two member states expressed their clear opposition to the plan before Monday’s vote on the budget with a spokesman for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Twitter“We cannot support the plan in its current form to link rule of law standards with budget decisions.”

Poland described the provisions of the democratic rules as an “excuse” to give the European Union authorities more power over the country’s affairs. “It’s really about institutional and political enslavement. For a radical restriction of sovereignty,” Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro He said Monday at a press conference.

Although Hungary and Poland use their veto power against the EU budget, both countries depend heavily on the bloc’s economic resources. In 2018, Spent the European Union Approximately $ 7.5 billion is in Hungary, equivalent to 5% of the country’s GDP. In the same year, Poland Received More than 19 billion dollars from the European Union, or nearly 3.5% of its GDP.

While member states of the European Union are in desperate need of the organization’s funds to finance their recovery from the Coronavirus, many national leaders stressed the importance of linking respect for rule of law provisions to the budget.

“Adherence to the principles of the rule of law is an absolute necessity,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a press conference after the vote.

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Huber also praised the European Union for linking economic aid to the rule of law clause in the budget, saying the organization had “lagged” in confronting Hungary and Poland over their alleged undermining of democratic norms.

“I think they should have done it a long time ago. I think the way they’re doing it is really really smart because the way it’s supposed to work is that every country is going to have a rule of law review. That’s not,” she told ABC News that it’s supposed To be a punishment for those countries that behave badly. It’s supposed to be kind of like a health check.

Nevertheless, Hopper said the United States and the outgoing Trump administration have taken on some responsibility in encouraging the current impasse in the European Union.

Basically, what [Hungary and Poland] With this veto, they say, “We don’t like the rule of law. If you want to make sure that the rule of law works in our country, we don’t want to play.”

“ And I think that the US government under the Trump administration encouraged this position, unfortunately, with personal relations between the President and Orban President W. [Polish] Government. “Unfortunately, I think the United States can bear some of the blame for encouraging this internal conflict within the European Union,” she added.

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