Initially, it was a meeting to improve coordination in the face of the health crisis… but nothing ever goes as planned in Brussels. The leaders of the European Union find themselves this Thursday at 6 p.m. with a new crisis on their hands, just as urgent, which they will have to manage during their videoconference. Three eastern countries – Hungary, Poland and Slovenia – are blocking the Union’s budget over seven years (2021-2027). At stake: more than 1,800 billion euros in total, including the 750 billion euros of the recovery plan adopted last July at the initiative of Paris and Berlin. Not an easy task then …
Especially since the consequences of the continental dispute are more concrete than they appear, including for France. The European billions must in particular finance 40% of the national recovery plan already announced by the government… As it will be a subsidy, it will make it possible to reduce debt.
The question of the rule of law
It took days and days of arduous negotiations to reach an agreement on this so-called historic package which should help Europe emerge from the economic crisis. The compromise between the European Parliament and the states only dates back to last week. But for the three refractories, a major problem persists: in the future, to receive European money, it will be necessary to respect conditions linked to the rule of law. The European Commission will be responsible for verifying that the judiciary is independent or that the fight against corruption and tax fraud is a reality.
VIDEO. European recovery plan: Macron welcomes “a historic summit”
A real red rag for the trio of former Soviet republics who feel targeted. “We are lucky to no longer live in a political system where we can be punished for ideological and political deviation, without having violated any rule,” denounces Judit Varga, the Hungarian Minister of Justice. We don’t want to relive that time again ”. In a letter, the Slovenian Prime Minister also recalls the experience of his country under communism. In short, for Budapest and its allies, it has become a question of sovereignty in the face of “Brussels interference”.
“Advance without countries blocking”?
Little chance that a solution will be found this Thursday evening. Meetings where everyone talks in front of their screens are not the right format for solving the most complicated problems. But the strategy of the Europeans, France in the lead, seems quite clear. On the one hand, behind the scenes, probing the three capitals to see if written clarifications can resolve the dispute, an exercise that the European Union has mastered.
On the other side, brandish threats publicly: “in the last resort, we will look if necessary, how to advance without the countries which block, warned Clément Beaune, the Secretary of State for European Affairs in front of the senators, Wednesday . Europe cannot be held hostage ”. Others recall in passing that the money from the recovery plan will also benefit countries that block and their citizens … The President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, has therefore called for its implementation “without time limit “. “We continue to be faced with serious circumstances, both from a health and economic point of view,” she insisted during a hearing before the European Parliament.
A 24-hour stimulus plan? It is technically possible, but much more complicated, and it would waste precious months in these times of economic crisis. “The nuclear option is never a good option,” sighs a diplomat. And what new image damage also for the Union, already busy managing – the post-Brexit negotiations resumed this week – the consequences of the departure of the United Kingdom … Brussels is therefore crossing its fingers that a “pirouette” can take place. found that allows Europe to survive one more crisis.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr