- Conflicts between the more assertive Central European states and the European Commission are coming to a head
- There is neither a substantive geopolitical fracture nor a profound political philosophy issue that divide the two sides
- Visegrad Group members have a chance to prevail in this political arm wrestling with Brussels only if they stick together
On the first weekend of May 2018, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a bronze statue of Karl Marx (1818-1883) that had been donated to the German philosopher’s native city of Trier by China’s Communist Party. Immediately, he was accused by politicians in Central Europe of insulting the memory of millions of victims of communism who were killed, imprisoned or expropriated of their property, in the name of the Marxist doctrine.
Only three days before that commemoration, Mr. Junker’s European Commission proposed a Union budget draft for the 2021-27 period. The document proposed a major innovation, which it called conditionality, that would link a member country’s right to receive European Union funding with its observance of the rule of law. The new mechanism would allow the Union to suspend, reduce or restrict access to EU funding for “backlash” member states