European Interest

Poland, Hungary will be EU’s biggest challenge for 2018

Flickr/Thomas Depenbusch/CC BY 2.0
A view of the city of Budapest, Hungary.

One of the biggest challenges facing the European Union next year is its conflict with Poland and Hungary.

According to an article by Jon Henley for the Guardian, the two former communist bloc countries, whose “integration [into the EU in 2004] was seen as critical to the bloc’s post-cold war advance” now face the risk of “becoming its first rogue states.”

“How Europe deals with members deliberately flouting the core western liberal norms and values it strives to embody – social tolerance, respect for free speech, an independent judiciary – could dominate 2018 far more than Britain’s exit,” Henley wrote.

In December, Brussels triggered Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland over changes to the judiciary by the country’s ruling conservatives. The mechanism could ultimately lead to Poland losing its EU voting rights.

In the same month, the European Commission referred Hungary to the European Court of Justice over Viktor Orban’s “ongoing assault on political freedoms.”

Both governments have also met with criticism for refusing to take in refugees.

“Calls to make EU funds – of which Poland and Hungary are among the largest net recipients – conditional on upholding the rule of law will certainly grow louder,” Henley wrote, adding that countries such as Germany, France and the Nordic states support this approach.

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