EU Diplomats Say Rift Is Getting Worse With Poland and Hungary

The rift between the European Union and its two budget holdouts is getting wider as Poland and Hungary reject calls for dialogue.

While Budapest and Warsaw are growing entrenched in their views, the vast majority of the member states are determined not to give in and revisit any parts of a $2.2 trillion spending package threatened with a veto, two EU diplomats familiar with the ongoing discussions said.

Both eastern European nations have rejected tying disbursements from the bloc’s budget and virus-recovery fund to members’ efforts to uphold the rule of law. The countries are under formal EU probes over the erosion of democratic standards, making them prime candidates for potential cuts to funding that could top a combined 180 billion euros ($215 billion) in the coming years.

EU government envoys in Brussels will be briefed on the stalemate later on Wednesday, with diplomats involved in the process saying that no progress has been made in persuading the two holdouts to lift their veto as of this morning. The likeliest scenario is that the bloc’s leaders themselves will have to resolve the matter when they meet on Dec. 10.

If Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban do go ahead with their veto, one of the diplomats said there will be a full-on conflict regarding sending them cash.

On a call earlier this week with a group of EU leaders and European Council President Charles Michel, Morawiecki was resolute in his opposition to the proposal, the two diplomats said.

Positions have become so polarized that France last week floated the idea of cutting out Hungary and Poland from the 750 billion-euro pandemic recovery fund as a possible solution.

Poland and Hungary can’t count on much support even within eastern Europe, now severely hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even the small Balkan nation of Slovenia, whose Premier Janez Jansa has been an outspoken supporter of Poland and Hungary, has toned down its support for them, and seems happy with the money allocated in the spending plan, one of the diplomats said.

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