Veto row in the EU: close to an agreement?

In the dispute over the planned EU rule of law mechanism, Germany has negotiated a compromise with Hungary and Poland under which a declaration would be added stressing that member states' "national identity" will be respected. Viktor Orbán is already presenting this as a victory. If the compromise holds it will clear the way for the new EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund. Observers, however, are less than enthusiastic.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

It will be more dangerous if they stay!

How can the EU allow itself to be blackmailed like this? fumes historian and journalist Timothy Garton Ash in La Repubblica:

“Fast forward to Hungexit or Polexit? Why would they be so stupid? ... No, the immediate threat to the EU is not that Hungary and Poland will follow Britain out of the door, but that they will remain full members of the club while continuing to violate its most important rules. It is hard to say which is now the greater danger to the future of the EU: a democratic Britain that has left, or an undemocratic Hungary that remains.”

Mérce (HU) /

Pseudo victory for Warsaw and Budapest

Orbán and Morawiecki can now boast about securing concessions in immigration and family policy even though they have nothing to do with the mechanism, Mérce criticises:

“From the start, the rule of law mechanism was solely about issues such as the independence of the judiciary, external control over the use of EU funds, and state corruption in Poland and Hungary. ... The planned 'manual' on the mechanism is to now expressly state that the proceedings must not deal with 'gender theory', questions of family law or immigration policy. ... The text never mentioned these topics in the first place, but now it won't be difficult to convey the impression that it would have if Orbán and his entourage had not 'won the day'.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Anti-EU genie out of the bottle

Regardless of the outcome of the dispute, the discourse in Poland has shifted, Gazeta Wyborcza fears:

“Although different tones can be heard in the ruling camp, the dominant impression is that the EU is threatening us politically, culturally, morally and socially: the EU is blackmailing us; the nation will drown 'on the path to a European state'; Poland will become a colony and the Poles will become the obedient servants of stronger countries. ... A pejorative tone is taking hold in texts about the EU, and even if a compromise is reached in Brussels, all this is accumulating and poisoning the citizens' thoughts. ... The sick discussion about a Polexit has now begun, and even if it is only a tactical step, it will unleash the anti-EU demons - just as with the Brexit.”