EU: Compromise with East, anti-social “reforms” for the South

by Klaus Dräger

The deal on the rule of law is very much kept in limbo during the last EU Council. Poland and Hungary achieved that they can go to ECJ to challenge the mechanism – before that nothing will happen. They got guarantees that the mechanism does not refer to the past. Looking at the time frame, as the EU Covid Recovery Programme is conceptualized for 3 years (2021, 2022, 2023, and then finished), they have nothing to fear about this. As the bulk of the Recovery Programme (70%) should be spent in the first 2 years, it is just fine. All the rest – juridical examinations, ECJ judgments pending etc. – will take a lot of time.

And anyhow, as the ‘compromise’ says: it is not sufficient to declare ‘rule of law violations’ from the EU side. There must be more proof that this affected e.g.:

on the sound financial management of the Union budget or on the Union’s financial interests, and the causal link between such breaches and the negative consequences on the Union’s financial interests will have to be sufficiently direct and be duly established. The mere finding that a breach of the rule of law has taken place does not suffice to trigger the mechanism.’

See for more comments from this (mainly mainstream media) below:

https://www.politico.eu/article/deal-reached-to-unblock-eu-budget-and-recovery-fund/

https://www.politico.eu/article/top-commissioner-vera-jourova-warns-corruption-will-diminish-taxpayer-trust-rule-of-law/

Finally – it boils down to ‘anti-corruption’ measures, which the EU already has in place. All the talk about the rule of law: it was anyhow hypocritical, because there were and are also severe violations on the EU’s ‘values’ in western EU states. These did not matter that much for the ‘extreme centre’ in the past. Berlusconi controlling all major media in Italy under his reign: neither the PD at home nor the rest of the EU challenged that. And so on.

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For the German ‘grand coalition’ what counts is this: to give its ‘Eastern European partners’ (read: the established value creation chains for e.g. the German automotive and other sectors) a certain leeway. They hope for some ‘regime change’ after 2022 in Poland and Hungary towards liberals of any kind, that’s all.

Anyhow Merkel willl then be off the hook. She leaves these issues to ‘future’ EU governments to solve. But they will not go away with Merkels ‘quick fix’ on the Rule of law & recovery programme (read also https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/09/european-union-eurozone-eu-council)

And to southern lefties optimists – please read this what the Commission already now demands from the Spanish government. The ‘official’ propaganda from e.g. UP etc. is, that no austerity is demanded, and that the EU-Recovery Programme is well intentioned. Perhaps be more careful, and also more ‘historically materialist’ in your analysis.

https://english.elpais.com/economy_and_business/2020-12-08/brussels-urges-spain-to-reform-pensions-and-jobs-in-return-for-eu-funds.html

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/47296/1011-12-20-euco-conclusions-en.pd