Zakaj se bodo iz EU proračuna še naprej financirali vzhodnoevropski populisti?

Vprašanje seveda ni “doklej”, pač pa “zakaj”. Odgovor je v enem stavku: Ker je za Nemčijo trg višegrajske četverice, predvsem Poljske, zelo pomemben, pomembnejši od francoskega in zato bo Nemčija na Svetu EU še naprej gledala skozi prste Morawieckemu in Orbanu. Daljši odgovor pa je v spodnjem komentarju Sławomirja Sierakowskega.

Arguing in support of such conditionality, Dacian Cioloş, the leader of the centrist Renew Europe group, claims that, “This is not aimed against Hungary nor against Poland or any other member state.” Rather, the point is to “ensure that European money no longer finances governments which continuously turn their backs on our fundamental values on a daily basis.”

But it is no secret that in both Hungary and Poland, EU funds are systematically used to finance political or private corruption and fund handouts to political cronies. The most recent example is the takeover of Hungary’s last independent news website, read by millions of Hungarians. Moreover, the governments led by Fidesz in Hungary and Law and Justice (PiS) in Poland are among the least inclined to show solidarity when it comes to accepting refugees or supporting the European Green Deal. Poland, for example, is the only EU member state that has refused to adopt a “net-zero carbon” target for 2050.

Instead of confronting these malefactors head-on, the European Council sought a compromise, delegating to the European Commission the task of creating a financial sanction mechanism to address violations of the rule of law. Whatever the Commission devises will then be subjected to a qualified-majority vote by member states.

Morawiecki either assumes that the principle of unanimity will in fact apply, or he does not believe that a qualified majority can be reached without the Visegrád Group. In any case, there is no question about where the Polish government stands. Poland has once again turned out to be the largest beneficiary of EU funds, securing €139 billion in grants and €34 billion in loans in the new seven-year budget. While this is less in percentage terms than what former Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government obtained from the EU’s 2014-20 budget, the additional disbursements from the pandemic recovery fund will push the total much higher.

As a result, the actual effect of the compromise is the opposite of what the EU intended. PiS will now receive even more EU funds with which to finance social transfers and consolidate its power. Since the deal was announced, the Polish and Hungarian currencies have appreciated rapidly against the euro and the dollar, and the Warsaw and Budapest stock indices have duly risen.

To be sure, once the Commission releases the details of the enforcement mechanism, it will be possible to apply greater pressure on Poland and Hungary. But neither country will face the budget guillotine immediately, given that the debate on this topic in the European Parliament and among member states could take two or three years.

Nobody wants to say it out loud, but everyone knows that isolating a country like Poland or Hungary would not benefit the West, and Germany, in particular, would have much to lose. Business in these countries is simply too good. The Visegrád group’s trade significance for Germany is greater than that of France, China, or the United States, and it is rapidly growing.

Populism pays off not just for the ruling parties in Poland and Hungary, but also for Germany. And now, this principle is being implicitly codified in the EU budget.

Vir: Sławomir Sierakowski, Project Syndicate

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