EU warns Hungary and Poland of Plan B unless they lift veto
Leaders expect developments before Thursday's summit, where they will seek to unlock the stalemate
BrusselsEverything seems to indicate that the coronavirus vaccine will arrive before the European anti-pandemic funds. Hungary and Poland are still vetoing the approval of both the recovery plan and the European budget because they are linked to the enforcement of the rule of law, and the rest of the countries of the Union do not intend to prolong the situation much longer. Community sources warned on Monday that if Hungary and Poland have not shifted their positions before Thursday (when there is a summit of heads of state and government), they are ready to activate plan B which would allow them to avoid the blockade of the group led by Viktor Orbán.
The remaining twenty-five countries are therefore putting even more pressure on the two ultra-conservative governments to lift the veto they are exercising on a total of 1.8 billion euros, intended to be spent before 2027. If no positive signals come from the governments in Budapest and Warsaw before this weekend's summit, the rest of the heads of state and government could give the green light to the activation of a new mechanism to replicate the recovery fund and extend the EU budget in different fractions, leaving out the two countries.
The same EU source insists that Thursday's objective is to reach an agreement with 27 countries and not the opposite, but the warning has been clear. It should be remembered that both Hungary and Poland are significant recipients of European funds (both anti-pandemic and general budget funds) and that by vetoing they are risking losing out on a lot of money. Hence the hope in Brussels that they will eventually change their tune.
However, the delay is already unavoidable. When the fund was agreed, it was promised that the money would arrive at the beginning of 2021; now, if an agreement were reached this week, it could start arriving by next summer. Otherwise, it remains to be seen when the alternative plan can be activated without Hungary and Poland. "I wouldn't expect it to take many months," predicted the same community source cited above.