Saturday 28 November 2020

Rutte, EU leaders adopt wait and see approach over Hungary and Poland

Photo: DutchNews.nl

It is up to Hungary and Poland to come up with a solution for the current impasse over the EU’s multi-year budget and the coronavirus recovery fund, prime minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday evening, after an online summit of European leaders.

The current situation is a serious problem but ‘we should not be afraid to have different opinions for a while’, Rutte is quoted as saying by the Financieele Dagblad. ‘It should be possible among a group of friends.’

Asked if he still considered the leaders of Hungary and Poland as friends, Rutte said his comment was meant to be metaphorical. He said he first wanted to wait until Budapest and Warsaw came up with their own ideas, and did not see a role for the Netherlands at present.

‘If we all start moving around going “oh oh, we have a problem”, then we really will have a problem,’ he said. ‘Let us look at what Poland and Hungary come up with. That is the way the EU works.’

Leaders only discussed the Polish and Hungarian veto of the funds for some 15 minutes, according to European news reports. The two countries oppose one of the conditions which would let the EU cut off funding to countries that violate legal principles.

According to Politico.eu, German chancellor Angela Merkel said she would lead further negotiations, but she defended the existing proposal, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of member states ‘I also made it clear that I believe we found a very good and balanced compromise,’ Merkel told reporters.

Lower limit

Rutte told parliament earlier this week that the Netherlands cannot accept any attempt to water down conditions for the EU’s new budget and coronavirus recovery fund, despite the threatened veto by Hungary and Poland.

The compromise deal is already the ‘lower limit’ for the Dutch and the conditions cannot be made weaker to appease the Hungarians and Poles. ‘This is crucial,’ Rutte told MPs during Tuesday’s parliamentary debate.

The next face to face meeting of EU leaders is scheduled for December, EU Observer reported.

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