The EU must show unity with Poland and Hungary as Russia’s war rages.
When on February 24, 2022, the Russian military started to invade Ukraine, a movement of solidarity could be observed all over Europe. Sanctions were swift and coordinated. Weapons were promised and also promptly delivered.
Germany, however, was hesitant at first to deliver weapons, then changed course. Unfortunately, much of the materiel came from arsenals of the old East German army and was no longer functioning.
Germany and Austria are highly dependent on Russian gas and coal. They, therefore, opposed proposals on the European Union level to extend the sanctions to these sectors.
Ukrainians are defending themselves with amazing bravery. Men by the thousands have volunteered to join the army. However, more than 3 million refugees have also fled to neighboring EU countries. These are mostly women and children. Most arrived in Poland (some 1.8 million) and Hungary. These countries have started to welcome, house, nourish and start schooling children of the refugees with extreme generosity.
Now is the time to show unity and determination to the world, not internal quarrels.
Yet the two most welcoming countries, Poland and Hungary, have been on the Brussels “bash list” for a long time. They are blamed for curtailing the independence of their judiciaries, among other accusations that are more than debatable about whether these should be EU matters.
Independent justice is important. But violations are issues not only in these two Central European countries. Even in Germany, there are political appointments and a strange “informal” coordination among the judges of the supreme court, the Bundesgerichtshof, and the Federal Government.
At a time when European cohesion is of the utmost importance given the attack on a neighboring country, the EU Parliament had nothing better to do than pass a resolution to force the European Commission to cut EU funds to Poland and Hungary.
In such an institution as the 27-member EU, there will always be differences. They have to be addressed. But everything in time. Today, however, is the wrong moment to punish severely the two members who are generously accepting the bulk of the fleeing Ukrainians, who are true refugees and not economic migrants.
These acts are certainly damaging to the cohesion of the Union, which is so important now. Now is the time to show unity and determination to the world, not internal quarrels.