Row Over Rule of Law Spoils EU Virus Summit
Hungary and Poland's opposition to Brussels' oversight over the rule of law will be top of the EU summit agenda Thursday, sidelining efforts to tackle the coronavirus epidemic.
EU member states had planned to share the lessons learned in the first year of the pandemic and discuss a strategy to prevent a third wave of infections in the first months of 2021.
The leaders were also expected to take the temperature of post-Brexit trade talks, with time fast running out to strike a deal with Britain before it leaves the single market on January 1.
But this week Warsaw and Budapest - now with the support of Slovenia - blocked the adoption of the bloc's combined 1.8-trillion-euro (.1 trillion) post-virus recovery plan and long-term budget.
The nationalist governments accuse their EU partners of mounting a power grab by tying the disbursement of EU funds to respect for Brussels' view on the rule of law and European values.
The videoconference, due to begin at 6 pm (1700 GMT), will now be dominated by efforts to talk them down - or work around them. "It will be the elephant in the room," one senior European diplomat said.
The plan to tie EU funds to the rule of law, strongly defended by the European Parliament and several member states, including France and the Netherlands, could be passed by a qualified majority of members.
But under EU procedure members need to give unanimous backing to a plan to allow the EU to raise funds to finance its 750 billion euro (0 billion) recovery plan and the trillion-euro 2021-2027 budget that follows it./Euractive
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