Veto and no Sputnik Shock?

European Diary, 20.11.2020: The cabal was to be expected. The fact that the majority of EU members now want to get serious about tying EU funding to compliance with constitutional standards has led to the announced veto by Poland and Hungary against the EU budget, and thus also against the 750 billion in aid to cope with the economic, social and health policy consequences of the Corona crisis. Yesterday’s special EU summit did not change anything about the blockade of the EU budget by Poland and Hungary.

An EU rule-of-law procedure under Article 7 of the EU Treaty is already underway against both countries due to numerous and growing restrictions on freedom of the press and opinion, the independence of the judiciary and the sciences. Hungary and Poland leave out few opportunities to repeatedly sound out how far they can go with this.
Viktor Orban now claims that in reality the EU is trying to force Hungary to accept migrants and receives applause from the FPÖ in Vienna.

Both Poland and Hungary are indeed suffering from rampant emigration – well educated young people leaving Hungary and Poland to seek their fortune elsewhere. The expulsion of the Central European University from Budapest is only one link in a long chain of discouraging events that accelerate this bloodletting.

The EU, on the other hand, is not least concerned about the rampant corruption, which can no longer be fought by an intimidated judiciary. And the lack of public control of corrupt government action in the face of a press landscape that, in Hungary for example, is already almost entirely in the hands of Viktor Orban and his followers.

The laboriously negotiated compromise between the Council, the EU Commission and Parliament provides that a qualified majority of 15 states in the Council, representing at least 65% of the population of the EU, can block EU funds if there is a threat that the use of these funds is no longer subject to democratic, constitutional control. This is at least a first signal to the governments in Warsaw and Budapest, probably also to others who may feel that they are meant here.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa is now also attacking the German Council Presidency for wanting to implement the compromise negotiated in the Council only a few days ago with Slovenian approval. Jansa himself, of course, does not threaten to veto it. Probably because he does not really know what he is getting himself into.

The veto of Poland and Hungary could turn out to be a boomerang. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is already threatening to continue the regular EU budget as an emergency budget and to adopt the Corona Fund as a bilateral agreement between the other 25 states, with Poland and Hungary then going away empty-handed. In the meantime, Poland and Hungary are practicing war rhetoric. They are waging a “freedom fight” against “slavery”. This is not badly received by the Polish population. Hungary, on the other hand, ignited the next stage of escalation.

Viktor Orban demonstratively relies on the Russian vaccine Sputnik V in the fight against Covid-19, although the EU states have agreed on a joint distribution of vaccines approved in the EU. Russia’s space probe Sputnik 1 triggered the Sputnik shock in the West in 1957, because Russia had succeeded in launching the first artificial earth satellite, even before the USA. Sputnik 1 transmitted a short wave signal and finally burnt up in the Earth’s atmosphere after 92 days of beeping. The Sputnik V mission was already a test for manned space flights. On board were two dogs, 40 mice and two rats, which landed safely back on earth one day later. A second Sputnik shock is certainly not to be expected. Russia will have enough to do to protect its own population. At the moment the number of corona deaths in Russia is also increasing dramatically. The waiting for the Sputnik miracle is still going on.

Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek spoke with Professor Andrea Petö on 10 September 2020 in Vienna about “illiberal democracy” and the situation of the constitutional state in Hungary, about the situation of women between corona and right-wing populism – and about the emigration of the Central European University to Vienna.