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EU v. Poland And Hungary: Why Brussels Would Never Dare

If Poland and Hungary fail to meet the high standards demanded by the European Union, it shouldn’t just cut off their pocket money, it should suspend them. But that won't ever happen.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Hungary's PM Viktor Orban
Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Hungary's PM Viktor Orban
Henryk M. Broder

BERLIN — I learned to drive at the age of sixteen. A neighbor taught me. A few days after my eighteenth birthday, after I passed my end of school exams, my parents gave me an old, used Opel Kadett – not as cool as a Renault 4, but a real car, with reclining seats and everything.

My joy was short-lived, however. As a punishment for letting my hair grow long, my father took the car keys away. I had to make a choice: the car or my long locks.

Why am I remembering this? Because the EU's dispute with Poland and Hungary reminds me of my father's response: an arbitrary display of power over dependents who willfully resist its authority.

My colleagues are all of the opinion that Poland and Hungary are "blackmailing" the EU, that they are holding it to ransom. However, I think it is the other way around. The EU is blackmailing Poland and Hungary, threatening to cut subsidies if they do not restore the rule of law in their countries.

A 1964 Opel Kadett — Photo: Lothar Spurzem

Poland and Hungary's treatment of minorities, corruption in the judiciary and decisions on abortion law are seen by many as scandalous, particularly in Germany. But remember, Germany is a country that is still arguing over whether East Germany was a police state or not. This is a country where there used to be a certain respect for Hungary's decision to allow East German refugees to pass through to Austria, and also respect for Poland's defiance against the Soviet Union while Germany was still vaunting the merits of "change through trade". Now, though, there is little gratitude left.

We must remember that the EU is not a confederacy, but a loose union founded on common interests. Its members grant Brussels some powers, but they retain their own sovereignty. If Poland and Hungary fail to meet the high standards demanded by the EU, it shouldn't just cut off their pocket money. It should trigger Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union and suspend them.

But the EU will not dare to do that. They don't want to shoot themselves in the foot.

My father understood that. After four weeks, he gave in and let me take the car keys back. It was more convenient and cheaper for him to get me to drive him around than to order a taxi every time he needed to go to the doctor.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Why The U.S. Lost Its Leverage In The Middle East — And May Never Get It Back

In the Israel-Hamas war, Qatar now plays the key role in negotiations, while the United States appears increasingly disengaged. Shifts in the region and beyond require that Washington move quickly or risk ceding influence to China and others for the long term.

Photograph of U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken  shaking hands with sraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

November 30, 2023, Tel Aviv, Israel: U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Chuck Kennedy/U.S State/ZUMA
Sébastien Boussois


PARIS — Upon assuming office in 2008, then-President Barack Obama declared that United States would gradually begin withdrawing from various conflict zones across the globe, initiating a complex process that has had a major impact on the international landscape ever since.

This started with the American departure from Iraq in 2010, and was followed by Donald Trump's presidency, during which the "Make America Great Again" policy redirected attention to America's domestic interests.

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The withdrawal trend resumed under Joe Biden, who ordered the exit of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2021. To maintain a foothold in all intricate regions to the east, America requires secure and stable partnerships. The recent struggle in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demonstrates that Washington increasingly relies on the allied Gulf states for any enduring influence.

Since the collapse of the Camp David Accords in 1999 during Bill Clinton's tenure, Washington has consistently supported Israel without pursuing renewed peace talks that could have led to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

While President Joe Biden's recent challenges in pushing for a Gaza ceasefire met with resistance from an unyielding Benjamin Netanyahu, they also stem from the United States' overall disengagement from the issue over the past two decades. Biden now is seeking to re-engage in the Israel-Palestine matter, yet it is Qatar that is the primary broker for significant negotiations such as the release of hostages in exchange for a ceasefire —a situation the United States lacks the leverage to enforce.

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