Hungary and Poland may lose billions in subsidies due to their refusal to follow the liberal values of the EU. EU's internal cohesion and geopolitical position are at stake.
On Tuesday, February 15, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rejected the lawsuit that Poland and Hungary filed to invalidate EU's rule of law over national issues. This may give the European Commission an opportunity to cut funding for those countries.
The position of Hungary is particularly principled. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is facing parliamentary elections on April 3. Hungary and Poland accuse the EU of endorsing values of liberal tolerance that come alien to the conservative and Catholic values of the two nations.
"This decision serves as a living proof indicating that Brussels is abusing its power by provoking unprecedented attacks on our country," Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga wrote on Facebook.
"The ECJ made a politically motivated ruling because of the Child Protection Act!" she said, referring to the law from 2021 that banned propaganda of homosexuality among minors.
The law, in particular, prescribes that school classes on sexuality should not promote gender reassignment or homosexuality, whereas the state should protect the child's right to gender identity at birth.
Varga said at a conference on Wednesday that the Hungarian government received a letter from Brussels saying that Hungary should change the child protection law (deeming it homophobic), although this issue is a national matter of Hungary.
"The problem is about the child protection law, rather than about the rule of law,” she stressed.
Hungary's Prime Minister Orban said a few days ago that Hungary could exit the EU if Brussels ignored the opinion of the Hungarian people.
As for Poland, the EU is concerned about Poland's judicial reform, according to which the Polish government is eligible to move judges from lower to higher courts or dismiss them without explanation. In addition, the EU is worried about Poland's move to declare LGBT-free zones in several cities of the country.
Poland's Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta said that Poland may refuse to contribute to the European budget. Thus, Poland's budget will compensate for the loss of the European funds.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki assessed the decision of the CEC as an expansion of EU's competence, which, in his opinion, is a "very dangerous process."
EU institutions should not be limiting their competence, he added.
"The limits of competence are strictly defined in the treaties. In those treaties, we only granted certain powers to EU bodies, while certain other powers were reserved with the member states. The process to expand competences is very dangerous when there is an ideological and institutional dispute within the EU,” said Mateusz Morawiecki.
In October, EU's highest court ordered Poland to pay one million euros in fines daily for failing to comply with the decision to repeal the law on judicial reform and bring legislation into line with EU laws.
Thirty-six billion euros of post-pandemic recovery funds earmarked for Poland and 7 billion euros for Hungary have already been frozen.
Subsidies from the long-term EU budget can also be cut. It goes about more than 100 billion euros for Poland and more than 50 billion for Hungary.
It will now take the EU weeks to formally begin the process to cut the funding for Budapest and Warsaw. Months of political haggling are ahead.
In a comment to Pravda.Ru, Vladimir Olenchenko, senior researcher at the Center for European Studies at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, noted that Poland is the main recipient of EU subsidies. For example, Poland's agriculture develops owing to those subsidies in the first place.
In addition, Poland claims to be a power centre in Europe to oppose Germany's domination. The Americans like this idea very much, and they support Poland in every way at this point.
"I think that Poland will not leave the EU for these two reasons," the expert said.
Hungary, the expert stressed, builds its own relations with Russia and other countries (Turkey), and those relations do not fall under Washington's influence.
According to Vladimir Olenchenko, Budapest may consider leaving the European Union if Hungary's sovereignty and laws are violated. For the time being, there is no such a development.
"If the European Union exerts pressure, Hungary may consider changing either its status in the European Union or the constituent documents of the European Union in general," Vladimir Olenchenko believes.
The British press has recently reported that Russia was going to conduct a nuclear test either on the borders with Ukraine or in the Black Sea.