Analysis of why Hungary and Poland are huge headaches for Brussels.
EU-wide clashes over core values are reaching a head, as member countries grapple with what to do about Hungary and Poland. How can the impasse between Poland, Hungary, and the EU be resolved?
Both nations have recently implemented anti-LGBTQ+ laws, with Poland basically declaring that EU law is not supreme. While Brussels has threatened to cut off financing and take legal action against the two countries, neither has caused them to reconsider their minds. But how could this predicament be resolved?
Poland and Hungary are expected to face more pressure from Brussels, including the imposition of financial sanctions, which could push them to back off.
These plans are already in effect, with the European Commission demanding concessions in order to grant Poland and Hungary access to billions in EU recovery funding, putting their post-pandemic economic plans in jeopardy.
However, both governments have made fighting Brussels a central element of their political strategy, and it remains to be seen how far they are ready to go from that strategy and risk losing public support.
Both countries will hold elections in the near future, with Hungary holding elections in 2022 and Poland holding legislative elections in 2023.
Because opposition parties are overwhelmingly pro-EU and have pledged a return to democratic standards, any defeats by the current ruling parties could ease tensions.
In Hungary, a six-party alliance has formed to unseat Viktor Orban, with Donald Tusk, Poland’s former European Council President and former Prime Minister, leading the European People’s Party.
A third possibility is that the powers would engage in repeated spats with the EU, with no clear endgame in sight.
Pro-democracy activists are optimistic about a new mechanism that would allow the EU to halt member money to EU nations that violate the rule of law and the bloc’s financial interests.
However, it is unclear at this time if this would put enough pressure on governments to make substantial policy changes, and whether it would further alienate voters from the EU.
Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, a French Green MEP and the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Hungary’s predicament, is pressing for the impending French presidency of the EU Council to pursue “recommendations” for Hungary.
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