03:45 GMT19 January 2021
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    Brussels was forced to back down on its "rule-of-law requirements", originally imposed on member states so as to disburse pandemic relief funds, after Hungary and Poland suggested they could make the entire EU budget bill a no-go by vetoing it.

    Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros has referred to Hungary and Poland finally forcing the EU to abandon its move to make coronavirus relief conditional on the "rule of law" criteria as Germany's "surrender", according to an op-ed in Project Syndicate.

    The financier, who has been sponsoring so-called "open society" causes all around the world, insisted the development was "the worst of all possible worlds", proceeding to blame German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally for the outcome of the talks, saying she had "caved in to Hungarian and Polish extortion".

    French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel take a break on a balcony of Merkel's office after a meeting in the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, April 19, 2018
    © AP Photo / Michael Sohn
    French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel take a break on a balcony of Merkel's office after a meeting in the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, April 19, 2018

    He suggested Merkel was currently "something of the sole main decision-maker for the EU" as France's Emmanuel Macron had been "temporarily distracted by the laicite issue", Soros wrote, thereby referring to French secularism principles and the way they have of late been undermined by Islamist terror.

    He took special aim at Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and his "kleptocratic regime", which he alleged "has stolen and misappropriated vast sums during his decade in power" while lambasting Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) government as hugely "illiberal".

    Poland and Hungary are "brazenly challenging the values on which the European Union has been built", Soros went on in his strongly-worded rant, rounding it off by "expressing the moral outrage that people who believed in the EU as the protector of European and universal values must feel".

    Rule of Law: What's in It

    The European Commission initially introduced "rule-of-law requirements" on member states for the effective distribution of pandemic recovery funds.

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaking at European People's Party's meeting (File photo).
    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaking at European People's Party's meeting (File photo).

    Hungary and Poland were deemed as the two primary targets of the proposed mechanism, especially in the wake of the European central authorities launching proceedings against Warsaw in 2017 and Budapest in 2018 over doubts about the independence of judges in the two countries.

    The countries have also been at loggerheads with Brussels over their laws on media, and LGBTQI rights, among other socio-political issues. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban fumed that Brussels was attempting to make supporting immigration a crucial part of the rule of law mechanism, with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki having previously called the rule of law initiative a "discretionary" mechanism relying on solely "arbitrary, politically motivated criteria".

    Budapest and Warsaw proceeded to threaten to veto the entire seven-year EU budget in protest, making Brussels step back.

    EU Budget Woes Amid Bloc's Uncertain Future

    Last week, in another opinion piece for The Guardian, Soros also addressed the financial issues in the European bloc, largely doubting the latter's future and its ability to ever fully pay off investors' bonds, especially amidst the pandemic.

    The billionaire previously argued that the EU should opt for "perpetual bonds", with the practice largely meaning that the lion's share of borrowed sums would never be repaid, only the annual interest rates would. The underlying idea is that the EU would last forever, and thus go on fulfilling its financial obligations before its lenders. Yet, now the situation has U-turned, Soros asserted, apparently referring to the tensions between Poland and Hungary and the rest of the 27-strong bloc.

    EU commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, welcomes George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundation, prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, April 27, 2017
    © AP Photo / Olivier Hoslet, Pool
    EU commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, welcomes George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundation, prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, April 27, 2017

    The government of Hungary, Soros' country of birth, has in recent years taken drastic action against the financier's multiple locally-based NGOs, including his Central European Unversity. Soros turned to Brussels for help at one point, and back in October, the European Court of Justice rejected the Hungarian education reform that compelled Soros to relocate the university to Austria. Budapest fumed in response, slamming Brussels for "executing the Soros Plan", as follows from government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs' written comments.

    'Liberal Fuehrer' Soros

    Hungarian culture commissioner Szilard Demeter has since doubled down on the accusations, depicting Europe in an op-ed last month as "George Soros' gas chamber", and calling the financier "the liberal Fuehrer".

    "Poison gas flows from the capsule of a multicultural open society, which is deadly to the European way of life", he wrote in the since retracted piece.

    The allegorical comments landed him in hot water: the opposition instantly called for his firing while the American Jewish Committee in Central Europe and the International Auschwitz Committee insisted that he should apologise.

    Related:

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    finances, budget, EU, veto, George Soros
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