The German EU Presidency will end in a few weeks, and it looks like Angela Merkel will be able to bring home a rich harvest when her chancellorship is nearing end. At least shortly before the summit of the heads of state and government on Thursday, it looked as if a solution had been found in the veto dispute over the EU budget.
In the previous evening, a paper was presented to the EU ambassadors in Brussels which, according to Polish information, represents an “agreement between Warsaw, Budapest and Berlin”. This is a supplementary conclusion to the original summit declaration, a kind of “package text”. It contains several clarifications on the effectiveness of the rule of law mechanism.
Accordingly, the reduction or cancellation of EU funding will not take effect as long as there is no ruling by the European Court of Justice against it. Such procedures usually take one to one and a half years – that would buy Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban a lot of time. In addition, the EU Commission should not make such a decision before it has adopted guidelines for implementation. This should take several months and should be done in coordination with the member states.
Another point concerns the so-called emergency brake in the rule of law mechanism. In the previous plans, this gave affected countries the right to address the issue at the EU summit of heads of state and government. However, it should not be possible to veto this level. This remains the case now. It is made clear, however, that the top politicians “endeavor to formulate a common position on this matter”.
Skepticism in the Netherlands
Austria is one of those countries that are on a tough course when it comes to the rule of law. From circles of domestic EU diplomats it was heard that the proposal that has now been worked out is at least at first sight quite acceptable: “Contrary to the fears expressed last, the paper does not contain any changes to the original decision and certainly no concrete concessions, such as that Hungary would It would get a special position in the migration question, “it said from EU circles. Rather, the compromise, with which both Hungary and Poland are apparently satisfied, is an “interpretative declaration” that can thus be initiated relatively easily. Objections are most likely to come from Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who had clashed with his counterpart Orban at the July summit.
The displeasure with Hungary and Poland widened when the two countries used the principle of unanimity to veto the EU’s multi-year financial planning and the associated Corona reconstruction fund. They were not concerned with the € 1,800 billion package, from which they themselves benefit significantly – but rather with the link with the rule of law. Even the already completed annual budget for 2021 was on the brink, an emergency budget threatened with numerous negative effects.