One thing is clear: if the EU does not manage to protect the rule of law in all Member States, it is difficult to conceive of it as a community of values. The EU will never fail because of climate goals, foreign trade or budget issues. Compromises on these issues may be hard to reach but are eventually found. The EU, like any political community, will fall apart when its fundamental values are no longer shared by all - when democracy and the rule of law apply to some European citizens but not to others.
In the EU, many things should be negotiable, but not the rule of law or democracy. One is inconceivable without the other. There is no such thing as an "illiberal democracy” as proclaimed by Hungarian Prime Minister Orban. Independent courts and media, free research, a vibrant and diverse civil society, and the fight against corruption are basic conditions for a functioning democracy. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the vast majority of Member States want to preserve this. That is why they want to link the allocation of EU funds to principles of the rule of law. The Hungarian and Polish governments are blocking.