Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked the European Union to try to find some compromise with Polish and Hungarian governments before rushing to halt their expected EU funds, Politico reports. Despite her call for diplomacy, European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders announced in an interview with Bloomberg Television that the Commission’s preparations for a “robust file” to react to Poland’s challenge to EU law could be brought into effect in a matter of days.
Many members of the European Parliament have called for the European Commission to act on the rule of law violations Hungary and Poland are facing, threatening to sue it for inaction. Angela Merkel considers this “a bit saddening,” arguing that such actions will not lead to anything.
Merkel Calls for EU to Overcome Disagreements
Before activating the rule-of-law mechanism against Hungary and Poland over the so-called rule-of-law violations, Angel Merkel believes “we can wait for this decision of the European Court of Justice.” After all, she argues, suing the European Commission for inaction will lead to anything, and both Poland and Hungary have the right to go to the EU Court of Justice to challenge the mechanism’s compliance with European law.
Merkel did not directly refer to the potential of withholding EU recovery funds from Hungary and Poland over these concerns but called for more unity in the Union over difficult questions, implying the need to avoid another Brexit situation.
Billions of Euros Could be Withheld from Poland and Hungary
Both Hungary and Poland are challenging the EU’s conditionality mechanism in the European Court of Justice. Currently, however, Poland is in the spotlight after ruling that its national constitution takes primacy over EU law. The primacy of EU law, however, is written into the Treaty on European Union.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders announced that the conditionality mechanism could be put into force against Poland in a matter of “days or weeks, maximum.” If the commission can activate the mechanism against Poland, it is expected to be able to do the same against Hungary.
If the conditionality mechanism is brought into effect, EU funds, among them the 750 billion-euro pandemic recovery package, could be kept out of reach for member states accused of democratic backsliding. Poland would be withheld 36 billion euros (HUF 13 trillion), while Hungary would miss out on 7.2 billion euros (HUF 2.6 trillion) in funds.
In the featured photo: Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders. Photo by MTI/EPA/Reuters pool/Johanna Geron