Hungary, Poland and the EU: it’s the money, stupid?

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Publication Date February 2023
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The EU’s strategy to deal with democratic backsliding in Poland and Hungary has been one of caution. The European Commission has repeatedly taken both countries to court for failing to comply with EU law. The Commission has also initiated so-called Article 7 disciplinary proceedings against Poland for breaches of the rule of law. Over time, the EU institutions realised that they could not solve Poland and Hungary’s rule of law problems by sheer legal and judicial force. However, both Poland and Hungary were heavily dependant on EU funding. Pressing this economic advantage, the Commission’s next strategy to rein in Budapest and Warsaw was shrewdly two-pronged: using EU funds as leverage, and exploiting the emerging cracks in both Orbán and Morawiecki’s bromance and in the Polish ruling coalition.

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ESO Records
CER Insight: Nov. 2021: How to solve a problem like Poland
EPRS Briefings: PE 741.581: Rule of law-related ‘super milestones’ in the recovery and resilience plans of Hungary and Poland

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