Linking EU funds to ‘solidarity measures’
Sir, – It is not before time that Germany and other EU member states are looking at ways to tie access to EU funds “to a country’s performance on governance and the rule of law, and willingness to implement practical solidarity measures like accepting refugees” (Patrick Smyth, “Why Poland and Hungary could threaten the EU ‘more than Brexit does’”, Europe Letter, September 7th).
It is outrageous that both Poland and Hungary are able to flout the values underpinning the European Union while continuing to receive transfers from the EU budget.
Membership of the EU comes with conditions. States seeking to join the EU must meet the Copenhagen criteria, which include commitments to human rights and the rule of law. If after joining a state reneges on these standards, they should be denied EU funds. Any state that reneges on these values should be invited to follow the UK out of the EU. – Yours, etc,
Dr SIMON SWEENEY
Sir, – Patrick Smyth’s article informs us of the “open defiance” of Poland and Hungary. Hungary has refused to take in refugees as a “burden-sharing measure”. This “burden-sharing” morphs in the very next paragraph to a “benefit”. The European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has written to Hungary after it had declined “the possibility to benefit from [the] relocation of up to 54,000 persons and decided to return nearly €4 million of EU funds prepaid by the Commission to Hungary”.
A sum of €4 million divided among 54,000 destitute people is not very much at all. Nor is it explained why refugees would want to settle in Hungary. The Hungarian language is one of the most difficult of European languages to learn, making it much more difficult to assimilate refugees. Hungary borders the Balkans, and perhaps knows more than most about how even after hundreds of years of living side by side, different traditions and cultures can quickly erupt into mutual loathing and war.
Certainly Hungary is behaving foolishly. In a more cynical age principles are often misconstrued as tiresome idiocies. Hungary should learn to master the game and do what many EU countries do, simply sing along loudly to the mood music and take the money. In two years, the Hungarian refugees would have their EU passports and could move on to another EU country. – Yours, etc,