WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s prime minister on Friday said he had confirmed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Warsaw is ready to block the EU’s huge budget and recovery package because it’s linked to democratic standards in member states.
Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook that he spoke with Merkel, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, about the 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.1 trillion) budget for 2021-2027 and the urgently needed coronavirus recovery package that is to be implemented in January.
He said he asked Merkel to help find a solution to the deadlock as soon as possible.
Poland and Hungary are protesting the draft budget and package because it includes a new mechanism that allows for the funds to be denied to members that do not meet democratic standards. They fear they could be targeted, as the EU has opened legal procedures against the two members over their rule of law record, especially in the justice system and media areas.
“I have confirmed our readiness to veto the new budget if a solution is not found that is good for all of the EU, not only for some of its members,” Morawiecki wrote on Facebook following his online conference with Merkel.
“I have told the chancellor that Poland is expecting more work on finding soon a solution that would guarantee the rights of all (27) member states and the respect of the (EU) Treaty procedures,” Morawiecki wrote.
Poland’s Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki, of the opposition centrist Civic Platform party, called on the government late Friday to drop its veto threat, voicing fears that Poland’s standoff with the EU could potentially even lead it out of the bloc at some point.
In an address broadcast on public media, Grodzki said: “I appeal to the authorities: go back to respecting the rule of law and the conflict with the European Union will resolve itself.”
“But if you cause Poland to lose enormous (amounts of) money for further development and reconstruction, if you also lead us out of the European home, history and people will not forgive you for this,” Grodzki said.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said she had supported the conditionality mechanism as a “very good, balanced compromise” and that it was clear that more talks were needed to find a solution but the task was “very difficult.”
The issue is to be debated at the bloc’s summit December 10-11.
Morawiecki said on Facebook that his talk with Merkel was in “good atmosphere and with respect for our differing points of view.”
Poland’s government is counting on EU funds after it has offered generous programs to businesses to cushion the effects of two anti-COVID-19 lockdowns that generated a large state budget deficit.
Emotions are running high and some strong words have been said, leading Seibert to say Friday that “insults never lead to positive results for all sides in Europe.”
He was commenting on words by a Hungarian ruling Fidesz party lawmaker, Tamas Deutsch, who had compared assurances by a German European Parliament lawmaker, Manfred Weber, that the new mechanism posed no threat to assurances by the Nazi Gestapo and Hungary’s communist-era secret police, the AVH.
”(They) said the same thing: those that have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. But we remember very well that in reality, anyone could be punished at any time for any arbitrary political decision,” Deutsch said.
Weber, of the center-right European People’s Party, had assured Hungarians that if media freedom and judicial independence were upheld in the country, then the rule of law mechanism would be nothing to fear.
Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and Justin Spike in Budapest contributed.