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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reacts during a meeting with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon, Portugal September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

MILAN (Reuters) – Portugal joined European Union countries condemning Poland and Hungary on Friday for holding up the bloc’s coronavirus crisis recovery package in a dispute over linking disbursal of the funds with rule of law provisions.

“It is unacceptable that two member states can block a decision that is very very important and decisive for all the European Union and for the recovery of Europe, and on such an argument,” Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told an online conference in Rome.

“The rule of law is one of the basic values and principles of the European Union.”

Hungary and Poland have for weeks blocked the release of funds worth a total 1.85 trillion euros ($2.25 trillion) from the EU’s seven-year budget and a post-COVID development fund. They object to the bloc’s attempt to make the funds conditional on respect for the rule of law and democratic norms.

Reporting by James Mackenzie; editing by Angelo Amante

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