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POLAND: PM Morawiecki begins diplomatic offensive in Hungary

As his first ever bilateral foreign visit, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited Budapest where he held meetings with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban and President János Áder. This visit marks the begging of the new PM’s diplomatic offensive in the EU, predominantly aimed at dissuading member states from following through with the bloc’s Article 7 sanction procedure. The choice of Hungary as his first destination indicates that Morawiecki seeks to reinforce existing bonds to have a stronger position when persuading other partners. Orban and Morawiecki also touched upon a range of other topics which often come up during Polish-Hungarian talks: key regional infrastructure, energy security, and migration.

Poland needs the support of six member states to block the initiation of the EU’s Article 7 procedure, which can end in sanctions after a final unanimous vote. While it is clear that Hungary will vote against any attempt at sanctions, it is in the best interest of the government in Warsaw to stop the procedure as quickly as possible. Still, countries such as Czechia which were previously opposed to Article 7 have recently been more careful in wording their statements. Polish diplomats are also likely to increase efforts in contacts with Bulgaria which has just assumed its six-month EU Presidency. As the country will be responsible for organizing EU Council works, it can have some influence at delaying potential talks on Poland. It seems likely that Morawiecki may have some success in his diplomatic efforts. Signals from Brussels indicate that both the European Commission and some member states are beginning to soften their stance towards the issue.