the European Union at the bedside of its recovery plan

Use of antigenic tests, mutual recognition of the results of these tests, vaccination strategy and logistics of vaccine distribution, gradual lifting of current restrictions. The video conference of the Twenty-Seven, which began on Thursday, at the very end of the afternoon, was largely devoted to the health coordination of Member States in the face of Covid-19. Moreover, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen took the opportunity to announce that the European Medicines Agency could give the green light as early as December to Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines.

But Hungary and Poland had also somewhat upset the agenda of the meeting, after having vetoed the future EU budget for the period 2021-2027 on Monday as well as the recovery plan, this package of 1,800 billion euros including the Twenty-Seven gave birth to forceps in July. In question, the mechanism which, for the first time, should allow the Commission to reduce or suspend the payments of European funds to countries which infringe the principles of the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary. While the very weakened European economies must be able to count on these European funds, the question of the rule of law therefore emerged at the start of the virtual meeting of leaders. They spent about fifteen minutes there.

Objective: calmly convey a few messages to the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, while being careful not to point them at them. All the leaders had consulted together to avoid the incident. “I have no intention of saying anything that could deteriorate the situation … We are working to find a solution“, Underlined the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, at the end of the meeting, refusing to say if he saw in the attitude of the Hungarian and Polish leaders” a betrayal ” or “ blackmail ». « Europe, in other critical situations, has been able to find solutions “, Minimized Ursula von der Leyen. As Germany holds the rotating EU presidency, Angela Merkel said she too was ready to continue discussions. “ This veto means that we must continue to speak with Hungary and Poland », She declared.

Europe, in other critical situations, has been able to find solutions

Ursula von der Leyen

Those who, among the diplomats, affirmed recently that Prime Minister Viktor Orban, at the forefront of the fight, would not dare to go that far, are at their expense. If these two countries have come up so well, it is because they feel that the rule of law mechanism now on the table – supposed to be more effective than the inapplicable article 7 of the treaties – was, above all, created to them. Indeed, there is much to be said about the rule of law in Poland and Hungary. Either way, the vetoes from Budapest and Warsaw – coupled with more recent support from Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa – are a cold shower for Europeans. “ This is a very serious problem Angela Merkel admitted Thursday evening. A failure on the European budget and the recovery plan “ would be a very bad signal for the credibility of the Union “, Also considers an official of the EU speaking of the agreement of July as” a clear and concrete demonstration of European autonomy ».

Bypass Article 7 of the State Injury Treaty

In Brussels and in the capitals, nobody expected that the videoconference of the Twenty-Seven would allow a solution to be found. If only because the subject is very technical and the format of the meeting does not lend itself to negotiations. “ Hungarians and Poles have climbed so high in the towers that it will take a little while for them to come down », Also confides a diplomat.

On Thursday evening, the leaders listened attentively to their grievances. Orban, “very sober According to a diplomat, thanked Merkel for the efforts made by Germany before repeating that he could not accept the proposed mechanism. In his view, it amounts to circumventing Article 7 of the Treaties sanctioning attacks on the rule of law by suspending the voting rights of the Member State concerned.

However, he believes, this circumvention cannot be done without a modification of the treaties. Its approach is therefore legal. “More emotionalMorawiecki reminded everyone that trust was shattered when the Commission initiated Article 7 proceedings against his country. The Twenty-Seven are there. No one knows when the EU will be able to break the deadlock. Including Angela Merkel who was careful not to give any delay to the journalists who questioned her on Thursday evening.

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