Pointing out that many European countries have legal peculiarities or far-from-perfect standards for judicial independence, Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Wednesday that the phrase rule of law was only invoked in reference to Hungary.
On Monday, the two countries blocked the EU's 2021-2027 budget and the recovery plan, worth a combined 1.85 trillion euros (£1.65 trillion), because access to the funds would be conditional on respecting the rule of law.
The leaders were also expected to take the temperature of post-Brexit trade talks, with time fast running out to strike a deal with Britain before it leaves the single market on January 1. All EU nations badly need the money as coronavirus infections and deaths surge around Europe and economies are ravaged by both increased health care demands and lockdowns to slow the pace of contamination. "Look, this instrument is controversial [.] The rule of law should be decided by an independent body, a non-political body", Jansa said on Tuesday, as quoted in a government statement. "Those who protect their borders can not qualify as countries where rule of law prevails", he said in a statement released to the state news agency MTI.
Morawiecki vehemently criticized what he said was "European oligarchy" and "European bureaucrats" trying to punish weaker EU member states based on a set of arbitrary criteria.
"Once this proposal gets adopted, there will be no more obstacles to tying member states' share of common funds to supporting migration and (to the) use of financial means to blackmail countries which oppose migration", he said.
Orban and other Hungarian officials have consistently sought to portray attempts in Brussels to rein in Hungary's democratic backsliding as rooted exclusively in pressuring the country to accept immigrants.
Poland is already under an European Union investigative procedure over its efforts to trim the independence of the judiciary, as is Hungary for an erosion of democratic norms, such as press freedom, under Orban's rule.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the rule-of-law conditionality was "an absolute necessity" because the sums handed out were so large. "The Ieaders of the current governing parties were the people who fought out democracy in the face of the communist dictatorship", Orban said.
"In our view, tying economic and financial questions to political debates would be a grave mistake, one that would undermine Europe's unity", he added.
Poland has warned that an escalating funding row could cause "a break-up of the EU" after it teamed up with ally Hungary to block the coronavirus rescue budget that "blackmailed countries into accepting migrants".
Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa criticised the language of the new rules, which are generally couched in relatively emotive terms painting opponents as being anti-democratic, or anti-rule of law.