Hungary and Poland have voted to block the EU’s trillion euro budget and coronavirus recovery package over a clause which makes receipt of money from Brussels conditional on Member States’ adherence to the rule of law.
Both Hungary and Poland have been subject to criticism and EU internal disciplinary procedures in recent months in response to growing concerns over respect for the rule of law. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has introduced strict controls on the judiciary and Poland’s Law and Justice Party has sought to fill the courts will political allies. In September 2020, the EU published its first rule of law report which warned of democratic backsliding among some Member States, most notably Hungary and Poland. The report was met with criticism by representatives of both countries.
The Member States’ objections to the clause linking funding to respect for the rule of law are procedurally significant as unanimity is required to pass the budget and recovery package.