Back in July, an agreement on the European Union budget and the recovery fund to deal with the effects of the coronavirus was struck, but nothing contained within the compromise reached between the leaders of EU member states pointed to the EU linking financial resources to so-called rule of law.
The agreement did mention the importance of the rule of law and the need to protect the Union’s financial interests and safeguard against abuse, but these were two separate points. Of course, the struggle for interpretation started immediately, but the western European press —although they can’t really be accused of sympathy for Viktor Orbán — summed up the agreement saying that the Hungarian prime minister had won.
So it was already clear at this point that if they wanted to smuggle their system of conditions into arbitrary political blackmail into the budget at a later date, they would definitely face a resounding “no” from the Polish and Hungarian governments. Of course, they tried — jamming the stick into the spokes — and the whole bike predictably fell over. EU functionaries complained to Politico that they did not have a plan B, that there is a crisis, that the Italians will suffer because of the Hungarians and the Poles, and so on.
“The Hungarians and the Poles are the reasons for all our troubles,” the complaint began, followed by a suggestion that Poland and Hungary should leave the EU if the rule of law criteria is not to their liking. The leaders of the so-called frugal countries, led by the Dutch Mark Rutte, of course can now secretly rejoice, as they did not want joint borrowing and a bigger budget.
As usual, all the fans of the topic immediately joined the choir. Some politicians apparently don’t even remember what they signed in July, let alone what they said a year or two ago, so Hungarian Minister Katalin Novák provided a couple of instructive reminders last week. Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, for example, not so long ago explicitly rejected the idea of making the payment of EU funds subject to political conditions. Juncker, for example, called the proposition himself “a poison” three years ago.
The leader of the European Parliament group of the European People’s Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, also has a short political memory. Every single time the Hungarian government is criticized for something, the liberals of the party family again suggest that despite the epidemic and the economic crisis, they should gather immediately and exclude Fidesz. This is, of course, what the left-liberals from other factions are demanding too, and why would the useful fools of the EPP not want to jump to meet the demands of their own political opponents?
According to Weber, if there had been no epidemic and the party leadership could have met properly instead of video conferencing, they would have already decided to remove Fidesz from the EPP. Even before the epidemic, Tusk did not put the issue of Fidesz membership on the agenda because he knew he would not have a majority, and the so-called “wise men” of the group, although reputable politicians, were blatantly disregarded because Weber did not like what they said.
The situation is that the liberals cannot defeat the Hungarian and Polish governments in politics, and their immigration policies have crippled the lives of generations to come. Now, as their failures become more and more obvious, they are working to shape the law in their favor at any cost.