The Moment of the European Commission – the Persistence of the European Parliament

European Diary, 12.11.2020: Within a week, good European news comes from Brussels and Strasbourg. After the cleverly launched news of the breakthrough in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine by the German company Biontech the tabloids worry about whether “we” (i.e. mainly us and not the others) will get enough of the vaccine. So it becomes clear what would happen to all of us if competition, power and corruption alone decided on the supply of vaccines. Meanwhile, the EU Commission has concluded treaties to ensure an even distribution of resources in Europe. And this on a large scale. One may be curious to see what kind of troublemakers will emerge in the process. But Brussels seems determined to finally get its hands on the ball.

Meanwhile, the German-Turkish community is particularly happy about the good news. Back in April, the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel newspaper ran a report on Biontech with the ironic headline: “We are vaccine”. And revealed to the astonished readership who is behind the company and its current success: the founder Uğur Şahin and the medical director Özlem Türeci, both of whom are Turkish migrant children.

Even the European Parliament is now tired of being the toothless tiger in Strasbourg. The cutbacks in European projects in the fields of education and health, with which the Council and the Commission wanted to sweeten the expenses for the large Corona “aid package” in order to calm down the stingy Austrians and their consorts, have now been at least partially reversed. The real breakthrough, however, lies in the fact that the EU can actually take on debt together now and jointly generate revenue through its own taxes. This is exactly what all national chiefs have tried to prevent so far. For this is finally a further step towards shared sovereignty. And it also means an effective commitment to common standards under the rule of law.

In the debate on procedures under the rule of law, Parliament has now reached a compromise with the Commission and the Council, which at least sends a clear signal that violations of the rule of law, such as those now commonplace in Poland and Hungary, should actually be punished in future. And this would be the case even if the misuse of EU funds were a possible consequence, and not only when this has already happened (as the half-baked German compromise had proposed in between). Consequently, this would also mean: if the legal conditions in a member state would no longer guarantee democratic control over their use. Of course, the decision would still not be taken by the parliament, but by a qualified majority in the Council of 15 states (representing 65 percent of the EU population). So it remains to be seen whether the parliament has finally found its teeth. For basically the conditions for democratic control have already been largely dismantled in view of a press that is already largely controlled by the Orban regime in Hungary and a judiciary that is already under heavy influence by the ruling parties in both Poland and Hungary. And thus there is a need for action.
Poland and Hungary, on the other hand, continue to threaten to veto the budget and the “aid package”. Money from which they themselves would of course benefit disproportionately. So things remain exciting.