Poland would be ready to drop its veto to the EU’s €1.8 trillion Coronavirus recovery package if EU leaders endorse an explanatory declaration on the budget access and respect to the rule of law, Poland’s Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin said on Thursday.
Gowin’s comments followed a meeting with several top European Commission officials in Brussels, during which, the head of Poland’s Agreement coalition party said that a veto to the blocs’ Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027 and the Next Generation EU would harm Poland and the other EU member states financially, Reuters reported.
“We all realise that in case of a Polish or Hungarian veto, there would be a provisional budget which, contrary to some voices in the Polish public debate, would not be good for Poland and not good for every other 26 member states,” Gowin said.
He added that it would be in the bloc’s interest to find a compromise, that could e reached if EU leaders adopted a “binding declaration” that would interpret the rule of law clause.
“The interpretative declaration could be … a clear statement from the European Council that the conditionality rule would not be used to exert unjustified pressure on individual member states in areas other than the proper use of EU funds,” Gowin added.
He stressed that while Poland could deal next year without the provisional funds, it would be of no point to do so without the EU funds, since they are already available and “there is still room for an agreement.”
Last week, during a joint press conference in Budapest, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters they would only accept an EU budget that is in the benefit of both countries, and that they were expecting new proposals from the German EU Council Presidency.
In the meantime, Brussels is considering ways to bypass Hungary and Poland in the creation of the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund, in a bid to put pressure on the two countries to drop their veto.
According to information given by EU officials to the Financial Times, the EU25 could proceed with setting up a planned €750 billion pandemic recovery fund next year to act as a “bridge” until Hungary and Poland reversed their decision over the bloc’s overall €1.8 trillion budget and recovery package.
EU leaders are set to meet next week in Brussels to discuss a series of issues, including the stance of Budapest and Warsaw, post-Brexit trade negotiations, Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the bloc’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“If there is no agreement with Poland and Hungary at leaders’ level next week, and things don’t look like moving, the other 25 member states will have to consider other options, one EU diplomat told the FT.
“No one wants to go down that route, but they may be left with no choice if Poland and Hungary don’t move,” the diplomat added.
Contrary to Gowin’s compromising position, which still remains unclear whether it reflects Morawiecki’s negotiating position, Hungary made clear today it will not take a step back in budget negotiations. On Friday, the country’s PM Orban said that any compromise “will not work” and that Budapest “insists” that the issues of funding and the rule of law be separated.