Hungary and Poland are on a collision course with the European Parliament. If they fail to reach a compromise, the Flemish government’s recovery plan will be jeopardized.
‘A hellish journey that can take years’. This is how Johan Van Overtveldt (N-VA) recently mentioned the approval of the European long-term budget and the corona repair fund. The former Minister of Finance is currently the chair of the Budget Committee in the European Parliament.
‘A hellish journey that can take years’. This is how Johan Van Overtveldt (N-VA) recently mentioned the approval of the European long-term budget and the corona repair fund. At the moment, the former Minister of Finance is the chairman of the budget committee in the European Parliament, but if the ‘hellish journey’ really takes a long time, it could have far-reaching consequences for Flanders. Van Overtveldt’s party colleague and Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon is counting on European funds in the short term for his recovery plan of 4.3 billion euros. He announced that amount on Monday during his September statement, which entitles Belgium to around 5 billion euros from that European recovery fund of 750 billion euros. The federal level has yet to reach an agreement with the regions and the communities on the distribution of that amount. Nevertheless, the Flemish Minister of Budget Matthias Diependaele (N-VA) recently made it clear that Flanders is already counting on three billion euros. Do Jambon and Diependaele put the cart before the horse? After all, what European leaders agreed in July is not a fait accompli. Quite the contrary: it is the finance ministers of the member states, the European hemisphere and all national parliaments who must approve the full portion before the end of the year. And that will not be an easy task. There is opposition to the proposal on the multi-year budget, especially in the European Parliament. The main dividing issue is respect for the rule of law. Read: Poland and Hungary. Both countries view European infringement procedures because they bend the rule of law to their will. Under pressure from Belgium, the member states agreed in July that in any case a ‘link’ must be established between the rule of law and European billion transfers to both countries. A vague wording that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Polish colleague Matteusz Morawiecki could sell to the home public as a victory. The European Parliament and Poland and Hungary are nose to nose about the precise interpretation of this link. While the hemisphere advocates a simple sanction procedure, the two Visegrad countries do not want to know about a link under any circumstances, and the mood is heated. If the parliament pushes through a solid mechanism in the multi-year budget, Poland and Hungary threaten to block the European recovery fund of 750 billion euros. For example, the Flemish government is also threatening to miss out on the money. The Jambon cabinet is aware of that risk, spokesman Olivier Van Raemdonck said. The government does not want to say whether the Flemish government will then have to reduce the planned investments. ‘In any case, we will have to look year by year to see what is possible. There are also other European resources, such as the European Brexit fund, that we will be able to draw on, ‘he said. It remains to be seen whether it all comes to that. Germany, which holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is doing everything in its power to break the deadlock. On Tuesday, it presented a new compromise proposal in the hope that the European hemisphere as well as Poland and Hungary will agree. In vain. Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga immediately announced that her country will not accept such a thing. “This is downright blackmail,” she says on her Twitter account. To be continued.
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