EU seeks to reassure Poland, Hungary use of rule of law link to EU money

FILE PHOTO: EU Commissioner for Budget Johannes Hahn addresses the EU Parliament during a plenary session, in Brussels, Belgium November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union institutions are seeking to reassure Poland and Hungary on how they would apply the mechanism linking access to EU funds to respecting the rule of law so that the two countries would drop their veto to the EU’s 1.8 trillion financial plan, a senior EU official said.

Warsaw and Budapest are under EU investigation for undermining the independence of courts, media and non-governmental organisations.

They vetoed the package of the 1.1 trillion euro 2021-2027 EU budget and the 750 billion recovery plan because they fear that, with the rule of law condition in place, they risk losing access to tens of billions of euros over the next 7 years.

“We are working on a compromise... giving a sound interpretation of how this mechanism would be applied,” European Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn told the EconPol conference.

“(Explaining) how future methodology would be applied and to reassure, that any kind of decision is subject to a potential request to the European Court of Justice, so every decision taken by the Commission and endorsed by member states can be challenged in the court,” he said.

“This should give everybody reassurance that there is no arbitrary element in this, but that it is a sound, objective procedure,” Hahn said.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski