According to EU Council President Charles Michel, European Union leaders have decided on a massive long-term budget and recovery plan for the corona virus.
Despite opposition from Hungary and Poland, the agreement was negotiated at an EU summit in Brussels.
“Now we can start implementing it and rebuild our economies. Our landmark stimulus package will drive our green and digital transformation,” Michel said in a tweet.
The long-term budget and stimulus package of EUR 1,82 trillion is seen to be crucial for many European countries whose economies have been ravaged by the virus.
In July, Poland and Hungary agreed to the agreement, but later vetoed a new mechanism to allow Brussels to cut EU funds to countries that violate the democratic principles of Europe.
The breakthrough came just days after it seemed that 25 EU partners from Poland and Hungary would go it alone and build a new coronavirus combat kit without them.
In the run-up to the two-day summit, EU diplomats and officials said the compromise would take the form of a resolution clarifying that the framework for the rule of law would not be used against a country without first receiving a decision from the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court. It could take a year for that process.
Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, said both sides were fighting for a “victory of reason.”
It is plain that when our nations and so many millions of people are in real distress because of the pandemic and its economic implications, we have to be fair,”It’s obvious that we have to be reasonable when our nations and so many millions of people are in real distress because of (the) pandemic and the economic consequences of it,”
But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he, like his neighbors in Belgium and Luxembourg, also had concerns about the compromise.
He had intended to obtain legal advice, in particular as to whether the deal would break the agreement reached between the EU Member States and the European Parliament in the past.
Mr. Rutte said he also wanted to make sure that any court decision “can establish retroactively that violations have taken place.”
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg said that it was common for Hungary and Poland to pursue judicial review.
“But nothing must change in the rules. Nothing. If we start watering down or saying we don’t care about values or justice; no. If we want the rule of law, we have to have a mechanism that works,” Mr. Bettel said.
Daniel Freund, the Green Group negotiator on the rule of law for the European Parliament, cautioned that the solution under negotiation would place the framework ‘on hold for one to two years.’
“Europe’s rule of law is in crisis,” he said, adding that EU members could not pressure the EU Commission “not to enforce existing laws while the independence of the judiciary in Poland is abolished or billions of EU funds end up with Orban’s family and friends.”
Had the 2021-2027 budget not been approved by leaders prior to the end of the year, the bloc would have been forced to operate with restricted funds, spending no more than one-twelfth of the previous fiscal year’s budget per month.
A number of projects for Poland and Hungary – still under formal review by the EU for alleged breaches of the rule of law – would have been halted.