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Poland, Hungary PMs to meet over EU budget veto strategy

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The prime ministers of Poland and Hungary are meeting Monday to strategize over their threat to veto the European Union’s next budget and massive pandemic aid package that draws a link between bloc funding and members’ adherence to democratic standards.

Poland and Hungary have been in conflict with the EU for years over their democracy records and fear they may be targeted by the new mechanism that allows funds to be withheld to any of the EU’s 27 members that fall short of the bloc’s standards.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is hosting Hungary’s Viktor Orban late Monday for talks on their protest strategy for the Dec. 10-11 EU summit that should approve the bloc’s urgently needed aid package and its 2021-2027 budget, totaling 1.8 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion).

It will be the leaders’ second meeting on the subject in less than a week.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that for her, the rule of law is “the foundation of the European project” and that finding consensus in the summit won’t be easy.

“We know that we absolutely want to have a result. We also know how difficult that is if all 27 member states can’t agree on that result,” Merkel told a virtual gathering of members of parliaments’ European affairs committees.

She said it was up to politicians to come up with results “with which all can live.” But she warned that it won’t work without compromise “from all sides.”

Germany is currently holding the EU’s rotating presidency and is tasked with finding a compromise that will pave the way for January’s scheduled implementation of the financial package.

Hoping to mollify the EU’s stance, Morawiecki has vowed full transparency of the EU funds spending procedures in Poland.

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Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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