Timothy Garton Ash, a historian, political writer, and columnist of The Guardian, says Hungary and Poland are blackmailing the EU over the rule of law, and their staying in the EU could be worse than Britain leaving.
According to The Guardian’s columnist, the new relationship between the EU and Britain, as well as Brexit’s influence will only be seen clearly after at least 5 or 10 years. Regarding the EU’s future, another question is whether the Scots will want to break up with England and rejoin the European Union. However, Ash claims that the EU does not talk that much about the topic of Brexit anymore as the attention shifted towards “other enormous crises”. It has to put through the new budget and recovery fund that Hungary and Poland threatened by veto, holding the rest of the EU to ransom “to further weaken the proposed rule of law conditionality on those funds.”
The Guardian columnist poses the question of whether democratic Britain leaving or undemocratic Hungary staying is more dangerous for the future of the EU.
He says that, compared to what Viktor Orbán and Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime ministers of Hungary and Poland, are doing to their partners in the EU, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher looks like “a gentle Europhile.” In comparison to Britain that was a major net contributor to the EU budget, Hungary and Poland are major net beneficiaries of it. The budget and the recovery fund together could contribute more than 6% of Hungary’s GDP – and still, the two countries, in his opinion, refuse to accept some minimal rule of law conditions that are essential to maintaining the democracy and shared legal order of the EU.
Ash says that with the veto, Hungary and Poland are basically refusing to let Germany and the Netherlands make transfers to southern Eurozone countries that were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, such as Italy and Spain, unless the EU keeps letting them use great amounts of money, without constraints – supporting, for example, Orbán’s “increasingly undemocratic regime”, as well as his family and friends.
The Guardian columnist calls the ruling parties of the two countries populist, xenophobic, and nationalist, who will continue to do however they please, supported by EU money, if the “blackmailing” over the rule of law succeeds.