Hungary, Poland likely to lift veto threat on next MFF

At the EU summit, leaders will step up preparations for the deployment and distribution of vaccines

Photo: EU Charles Michel.

At the upcoming EU summit that starts later on Thursday, many observers expect a favorable outcome concerning the next common long-term budget and the crisis recovery fund, total of €1.8tn, after Hungary, Poland and Germany reached a preliminary compromise on Wednesday.

The agreement is the result of very strenuous efforts by Poland, Hungary but also the German Presidency, Polish President Andrzej Duda said, cited by Radio Poland. However, this compromise have to be backed by all other 24 EU countries as to overcome the standstill.

Reaching an agreement on the budget remains one of the most urgent tasks at the last for 2020, and this time in-person, European Council meeting in Brussels.

“I am confident that we can find an agreement on a common package to allow for the swift implementation of both the Multiannual financial framework and the Recovery fund,” wrote European Council President Charles Michel in his invitation letter to the EU leaders.

Hungary and Poland threatened to veto the next MFF and recovery fund over the push for tying up allocation of funds under these instruments to a wide-ranging rule of law conditionality regime.

The two countries fear, that the rule of law conditionality mechanism, as it was backed by the European Parliament, is not only related to how the European funds are spent, but could be transferred to areas as migration, same-sex marriages, and, for Poland, to the abortion ban.

In addition to the MFF, the leaders will have a lot of pressing topics on their programme. They will take stock of the situation and discuss the overall coordination effort in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, work on vaccines and testing and the gradual lifting of restrictions.

“We can now step up our preparations for the deployment and distribution of vaccines. We must sustain our efforts to coordinate on testing and the lifting of restrictions, including for travel, when the epidemiological situation allows it,” President Michel explained.

It is expected leaders to agree a new EU emissions reduction target for 2030, that will allow the EU to submit before the end of the year its updated contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Other item on the agenda will be the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, including online activities and the Counter-terrorism Agenda that the Commission presented a day ago.

Afterwards, the discussion will turn to the EU-US relations and the proposal for a new, forward-looking transatlantic agenda, tabled by the Commission and the EU High Representative in the beginning of December.

In line with its conclusions of October, the European Council will come back to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey. Leaders will also discuss EU relations with the Southern Neighbourhood.

On Friday will be held a Euro Summit in an inclusive format with focus on the banking union and the capital markets union.

When it comes to relations with the UK, negotiations are on-going based on our common mandate, Michel underlined noting that the President of the Commission will debrief the EU leaders on the state of play concerning the Brexit talks.

So far, it is known that two of the leaders will not attend the sitting due to quarantine. They are Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, whose isolation has been extended due to a cough caused by Covid-19, and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who was quarantined after contact with an individual who was later tested positive for coronavirus. They will be represented at the meeting on Thursday and Friday by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Latvian Prime Minister Krišjanis Karinš, respectively.

 

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