Polish PM threatens to veto EU budget after talks with Hungarian PM

Andrzej Lange/PAP

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday after talks in Budapest with Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban that Poland and Hungary would not hesitate to veto the EU budget over a disputed rule-of-law mechanism.

In a joint press conference following the meeting, Morawiecki said: "We will not hesitate to use the veto, not only for the good of Poland and Hungary but for the good of the whole European Union."

"I believe, deadly seriously, that in this way we are protecting EU cohesion, the sovereignty of countries, because the EU is a Europe of motherlands, it must be a Europe of motherlands in the future, but also the letter and spirit of the treaties," Morawiecki continued, claiming that the multi-annual EU budget adopted at a long July sitting of the European Council was a success for the whole community.

"That was in July. Today, however, we are faced with a new challenge, a completely new mechanism which, due to its arbitrariness, political application, politically motivated decisions, may and inevitably would lead to the dismemberment of the European Union or perhaps even the Union's breakup," said Morawiecki.

The prime minister said the mechanism, which ties EU funding to the observance of the rule of law, arbitrarily interprets the regulation on the so-called rule of law whereas in fact the regulation that was supposed to refer to the budget, refers to other matters, adding that secondary law cannot circumvent primary law.

"This is extremely dangerous to Europe's cohesion, it is a bad solution threatening Europe with a breakup in the future," Morawiecki said.

The Polish prime minister went on to claim that arrangements made at the July summit had been reinterpreted. "In fact, the German presidency has not complied with the provisions of the July agreement," he said.

He said the proposal at the July summit was for a rule-of-law mechanism to be an additional element for supervision over the budget.

"But please read what the conclusions are - in the conclusions it was formulated completely differently and therefore we definitely have to stick to these conclusions," he said.

"The conditionality embedded in this regulation proposed today is leading the European Union astray. We do not want the Union to stray from its course," Morawiecki said, adding that that course consisted of 27 countries characterised by different legal systems, traditions and also visions of the future. "That diversity must be respected must be appreciated," he said.

The two prime ministers issued a joint declaration that said their positions had remained unchanged since the start of negotiations on the 2021-2027 budget in 2018 and that their common aim was to prevent the emergence of a mechanism that would weaken the rule of law in the EU by leading to it becoming a political tool.

"We are seeking solutions that will be acceptable to all EU members," the statement read.

Morawiecki told Thursday's press conference that the right to veto was "enshrined in the treaties" in order to "look after the interest of each of the member states." He said today Poland, Hungary and Slovenia are being attacked and tomorrow it could be Bulgaria, Italy or Spain as "one can expect nothing else."

"We want the Union to develop on the basis of treaties and fair rules," he said.