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Germany's Scholz: No EU country would be "so unwise" as to block recovery plan

BERLIN (Reuters) - European Union member states will soon agree on a disputed rule-of-law mechanism linked to the bloc’s recovery plan as all countries, including Poland and Hungary, would benefit from its approval, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz holds a virtual news conference in Berlin, Germany, November 27, 2020. Kay Nietfeld/Pool via REUTERS

Poland and Hungary have said they are open to new proposals aimed at resolving a row with the European Union over linking funds from the bloc’s budget and recovery fund to the rule of law.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said an EU leaders summit on December 10-11 will be crucial in determining whether a solution can be found, allowing the bloc’s budget and coronavirus recovery fund to be passed despite Poland’s and Hungary’s objections over the rule-of-law mechanism.

“For me, this is a question where it’s important to belong to those who never give up,” Scholz as current EU chair told reporters following a virtual meeting of EU finance ministers.

“And that is why I remain confident that we will soon be able to come to an agreement,” Scholz said.

Scholz pointed out that the EU’s announcement alone to support the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with a debt-financed 750 billion euros plan had been cheered by markets and that action was needed now to implement the decision.

“I am sure that no one will be so unwise as to prevent decisions from being made now,” Scholz said.

Asked whether EU finance ministers had discussed a ‘Plan B’ in case Poland and Hungary would stick to their veto, Scholz said that trust in European leaders was needed now.

“And political experience from good political governance suggests that you should never discuss a Plan B in detail. Because you wouldn’t need Plan As if you only had Plan Bs.”

European lawmakers have suggested that the remaining 25 EU members states could push ahead with their recovery plan if Poland and Hungary remained opposed. However, that would exclude both countries from receiving funds from Brussels, which would be likely to result in a major EU crisis.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Maria Sheahan, William Maclean

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