Poland slams vote questioning Hungary holding EU presidency

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WARSAW, (Reuters) – Poland rebuked the European Parliament backing a resolution that questions Hungary’s ability to hold the European Union presidency next year due to concerns about judicial independence.

Despite a significant cooling of relations due to their different stances on the war in Ukraine, Poland and Hungary remain united in opposing what they see as undue interference from Brussels over reforms that critics say undermine judicial independence.

“It is a clear violation of European rules in their most important form, that is treaty rules,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a conference in Moldova. “Destroying the entire way of managing the EU in this way is not only a road to nowhere, but it is a road to the abyss.”

The resolution, which was approved 442-114 with 33 abstentions, questioned how Hungary could hold the presidency “in view of incompliance with EU law and the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union as well as the principle of sincere cooperation”.

According to a calendar agreed by all EU governments in 2016, Hungary is to hold the presidency of the bloc between July and December 2024.

Hungary and Poland have long been at odds with the EU over multiple issues, such as the rule of law, media freedoms and LGBTQ rights. The EU has frozen billions of euros in funds for Budapest and Warsaw due to its concerns.

Hungary could receive some 5.8 billion euros in free grants and a further 9.6 billion euros in cheap loans from the EU, but the bloc has suspended any payments until Budapest’s nationalist government implements reforms to improve judicial independence and tackle corruption.

On Tuesday, the European Commission and U.S. State Department voiced concern about a new Polish law they say could effectively ban, without providing proper judicial review, individuals deemed to have acted under Russian influence from holding public office.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief political aide Balazs Orban, who is not related, said on Twitter that Hungary was being “blackmailed by Brussels because of its antiwar position”.

Hungary has refused to provide any military equipment to its neighbour to help it fight off a Russian invasion, and Hungary has criticised EU sanctions against Moscow.

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