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Coronavirus: France says EU could proceed on budget, recovery plan without opponents

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The European Union is studying “practical solutions” for resolving an impasse over the bloc’s budget and coronavirus recovery plan, but could proceed without opponents Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune said Wednesday.

“With the German presidency of the EU, we are looking for practical solutions,” he told senators in Paris, but “we are looking, as a last resort, at how to proceed without the countries that are blocking” a deal.

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Hungary and Poland have said they will block the 1.8-trillion-euro budget and coronavirus recovery plan because of a proposal to link funding to member states’ respect for the rule of law.

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They claim it would allow EU institutions to sit in judgement on whether their governments abide by European democratic norms.

Beaune said EU officials would consider “clarifications” to the rule-of-law requirement, “but certainly not by calling it into question, because our values and our European project are at stake.”

“Europe cannot be held hostage by a certain number of governments that do not want to move forward, that do not respect the bedrock of our political project,” he warned.

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