The July ‘white smoke’ trading sessions – after a four-day and four-night trading marathon – seem to have been exaggerated after all. Hungary and Poland confirmed this week the veto to the European Union (EU) multi-annual budget for the period 2021-2027 (in the amount of 1.07 billion euros) and to the Recovery Fund (of 750 billion euros), as they continue to reject the mechanism that makes access to these Community funds conditional on respect for the rule of law (which requires unanimity).
And although the decision of the nationalist and conservative governments of Viktor Orbán and Mateusz Morawiecki did not deserve, this time, the support of the other countries of the so-called Visegrad Group (Slovakia and Czech Republic), it gained a new ally: Slovenia. After the veto was confirmed, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa volunteered to write to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to state that “only an independent judicial body can say what the rule of law is, not a political majority ‘.
This blockade calls into question all the financial support allocated by Brussels to the 27 Member States, starting in January 2021. The European Council met again, by videoconference, last Thursday, but this time, the This topic was overlooked due to the urgent need to align strategies to combat covid-19.
It is recalled that Portugal is entitled to 30 billion euros from the European budget for the next seven years, to which is added an additional 15.3 billion euros in grants from the Recovery Fund. The famous bazooka that António Costa’s executive (and other European countries) considers “urgent” to overcome the economic crisis accentuated by the pandemic.
Crown of thorns’
A little more than a month is left for Germany to cede Portugal to the presidency of the European Council – during the first half of 2021. If the situation is not cleared by then, the Portuguese Government will have to assume the (difficult) negotiations with Hungary and Poland, a scenario that the prime minister wants to avoid at all costs, as he told reporters after leaving the meeting with his peers. «We already have an important workload for the Portuguese presidency, and our goal is to start the framework that is now approved. Lady’s calendar [Angela] Merkel is as early as possible. Time is running out and the next meeting of the European Council will be in December, “said António Costa, adding that” everyone hopes that by then this problem will be overcome “.
Especially because, if that doesn’t happen, Portugal will have an added task to close an agreement before July, when the rotating presidency of the European Council will fall into the hands of … Slovenia. And there, everything will be more difficult, and the European budget may even be postponed for a year – an unthinkable scenario in the EU.