The collapse of the EU is now inevitable. Hungary and Poland will not be governed by Brussels, writes the British newspaper Daily Express.
A grudge is brewing between progressive Brussels and conservative-nationalist Central and Eastern Europe over the tying of EU money to the rule of law, which Hungary and Poland see as a poorly veiled attempt to impose liberal values on them.
Hungary and Poland have been in the club long enough to know the rules. Budapest and Warsaw must already understand that the EU is not going to change to suit them.
Officially, most in the central and eastern EU states support EU membership. In reality, however, most of them have begun to lean toward becoming part of an enhanced trade union rather than an ideologically anchored political union.
Moreover, the EU cannot exclude both countries. As Brexit supporters know, Article 50 is the only way out, and it must be enforced by the country in question. Article 7 can impose sanctions, up to and including disenfranchisement from the European Council. However, this requires unanimity, and Hungary and Poland, not to mention other Central and Eastern European states, usually support each other.
How long can Hungary and Poland continue this dance, and how long can both sides of the EU divide ignore the cultural iron curtain that has caused the continent to split?
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban doesn't just annoy Brussels, he looks at the world from a very different perspective.
Since Orban returned to power in 2010, the number of marriages in Hungary has doubled, the number of abortions has been halved, the divorce rate has reached an all-time low, and the birth rate has risen by a quarter. Orban has also curated a constitution with references to God and Christianity; funded Christian schools and banned content thought to promote LGBT issues among minors. None of this has garnered him sympathy in Brussels, but it has proved extremely popular in Central and Eastern Europe.
But almost certainly what Brussels sees as the draconian policies of Hungary and Poland are direct reactions to what Budapest and Warsaw believe are coming from Brussels.
Isn't it obvious that if most Central and Eastern European states cease to be members of the EU, they will no longer feel that their values are under attack and, therefore, will not pursue such harsh policies in the first place?
Both sides are unhappy with this toxic relationship, but seem to refuse a peaceful divorce that could preserve economic ties while severing political ties: creating a new conservative European confederation in the east with a progressive EU centered in the west.