EC tells Poland, Hungary rule-of-law clause in line with summit agreements

Mamer said that the Commission does not wish to talk about a no-agreement scenario, but mentioned that the treaties speak of a “Plan B” in the event of the budget not being agreed upon. Olivier Hoslet/PAP/EPA

The European Commission has said it will stand its ground in a dispute with Poland and Hungary, insisting a rule-of-law mechanism in the 2021-27 EU budget is in line with agreements made by the heads of EU states at a July summit.

Warsaw and Budapest have threatened to block the budget because of the mechanism, which ties funding to respect for the rule of law. They argue that the good-behaviour clause violates EU treaties and contradicts agreements made at the summit in July.

Mateusz Morawiecki and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban met in Budapest on Thursday and adopted a joint declaration in which they maintained their opposition to the EU budget in its current form.

“We have seen the declaration and the statements stemming from the meeting of the Hungarian and Polish prime ministers,” said Eric Mamer, a European Commission spokesman. “The position of the European Commission has not changed.

“We believe that the conditionality mechanism that was adopted corresponds to the agreement reached at the European Council meeting in July,” he added. “We believe that the mechanism is focused on, as it should be, the protection of the EU budget.”

He added that the mechanism would be applied equally to all member states and that the measures that could be applied under it could be assessed by the European Court of Justice.

With neither side appearing to be willing to compromise or back down, the dispute could further fray relations between the EU and Poland and Hungary.

Mamer said that the Commission does not wish to talk about a no-agreement scenario, but mentioned that the treaties speak of a “Plan B” in the event of the budget not being agreed upon.

Under the treaty, the Commission can work on a technical alternative, but Mamer said the EC's priority remained to have the budget accepted as quickly as possible this year.

Mamer said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, had received a letter from Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, setting out the Polish case.