Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the European Council in Brussels (Belgium), July 19, 2020.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the European Council in Brussels (Belgium), July 19, 2020 (JOHN THYS / POOL)

Poland and Hungary reject a clause in the recovery plan and block the budget of the European Union. Theoretically, the rule is that Brussels pays the money for the recovery plan only if the member countries respect the rule of law, i.e. the independence of justice, the media, individual freedoms, etc. . But here it is: Budapest and Warsaw, joined since by Slovenia, do not want to hear about this principle. This is no surprise: in the spring, when Europe negotiated solutions to overcome the crisis, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Polish counterpart warned. Today, they are taking action, and their veto stops the whole process of the 750 billion euro stimulus plan, but also the Community budget of more than 1000 billion euros for the next six years.

The stakes are high and Hungary and Poland also stand to gain. Brussels must pay Poland 14 billion euros in budget each year, and 23 billion euros for the stimulus. For Hungary, that’s 5 billion a year budget, plus 6 billion. This money is in fact the main negotiating lever, because Poland and Hungary need it. Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are pushing for these countries to give in, leaving the possibility of getting them out of the plan if they do not side with. Even today, in Brussels, the subject will be at the heart of the leaders’ summit.

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This blockage prevents the Commission from borrowing in the financial markets. We must not forget that a recovery plan, like the European budget, is largely financed by credits. And above all, while waiting to find a solution, the delays are piling up, the first payments from Europe to the countries were initially scheduled for April 2021, they will not occur until next summer, at best.

France will therefore have to wait before touching the 40 billion euros, which must supplement our 100 billion national recovery plan to help regions, but also businesses, overcome the crisis. This is a long time, especially when economic activity continues to deteriorate.

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