Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Hungary and Poland have rejected the European Union's $2.1 trillion seven-year budget and coronavirus recovery plan, putting the bloc's massive plan to rebuild the continent's battered economy in jeopardy.
Various state members had been working for months to reach a deal and avert the delay in approving the budget as the coronavirus makes a second spike. Some balked at plans to tie funds to establishing democratic norms with new "rule of law" measures.
Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban bristled at what he believed was an overreach by the European Union in its internal affairs. In a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, Orban said Hungary would vote against the budget.
Hungary said in a statement it shared EU's values and commitment to the rule of law "but it should be left to the Hungarian people to decide whether those regulations are adhered to and implemented correctly, as they are as good judges of the issue as to any other European people."
Hungary and Poland had been facing EU sanctions for alleged attempts by their governments to undermine the independence of their judges.
"The resistance of Orban and the Polish government is irresponsible," European Parliament member Rasmus Andersen from Germany said. "Orban is afraid that the new rule of law mechanism will harm his autocratic regime. He is trying to take Europe and COVID hostage for his failed policies. Hungary and Poland risk plunging the EU into a deep crisis."