EU May Exclude Poland, Hungary From COVID-19 Recovery Plan, French Minister for Europe Warns
09:52 GMT 06.12.2020
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune has said that Poland and Hungary may be denied access to the European Union's COVID-19 pandemic recovery fund unless they give up their tough stance towards the so-called rule of law mechanism.
"If Hungary and Poland still refuse to confirm the current state of affairs, it will be necessary to find a more radical solution, which means that the recovery plan for Europe will include 25 [EU members]. Legally, it is complicated but possible. Our stance is clear: we will not sacrifice either recovery [package], nor the rule of law", Beaune said on Sunday in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche.
The leaders of the EU's member states struck a deal to create a 750 billion euro ($909 billion) COVID-19 recovery fund, named NextGenerationEU, back in July. However, controversy has arisen as the bloc seeks to make access to the funds contingent on the observation of European values, such as democratic norms and respect for the rule of law.
At a meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper II) on 16 November, Poland and Hungary refused to give their consent to the recovery fund in opposition of the rule of law mechanism, outlining their belief that it could result in double standards applied to different EU members.
They also refused to approve the bloc's proposed 1.074 trillion euro budget, which is expected to run from 2021 through 2027, disrupting the European Union's plan to adopt it before the end of the year.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged Poland and Hungary on 25 November to take their dispute to court, rather than hold up efforts to approve the budget and recovery fund.
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