Brussels Corruption and other violations of the rule of law in Hungary has the European Commission proposed cutting around 7.5 billion euros in payments to the country from the EU budget. This was announced by EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Sunday in Brussels. It is the first time that the EU Commission proposes this step due to deficiencies in the rule of law in an EU country.
The money from the EU budget is not sufficiently protected against misuse in Hungary, said the Austrian. At the same time, he acknowledged the commitments that the Hungarian government had recently made to eliminate the existing shortcomings. "Hungary has actually moved," said Hahn.
In order for the country to actually cut money from the EU budget, at least 15 countries with at least 65 percent of the EU population would have to agree to the proposal in the EU Council.
The authority of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had already initiated the procedure under the so-called EU rule of law mechanism in April. This has been in force since the beginning of 2021 and is intended to ensure that Violations of rule of law principles like the separation of powers no longer go unpunished. The decisive factor here is that the deficits threaten to misuse EU funds.
Top jobs of the day
Find the best jobs now and
be notified by email.
In addition, the Commission is currently blocking several billion euros in corona aid for Hungary. It is the only country that has not yet been able to agree on a plan for the use of the money with the Brussels authorities.
Statutory and practical measures required
Hahn acknowledged that Hungary's recent commitment to address EU criticism is an important step in the right direction. However, this still has to result in new laws and practical measures before the EU can be reassured.
Hungary's government spokesman Gergely Gulyas announced on Saturday that the government wanted to urgently get several legislative amendments through parliament in order to allay the EU's concerns. These should come into force in November.
The cut in funding for Hungary was welcomed in the European Parliament. The chair of the Budget Control Committee, Monika Hohlmeier (CSU), said the billions withheld were "not peanuts, but a substantial sum that should show the Hungarian government that the concerns are serious and that they need to move."
Hohlmeier rated the latest signals from Budapest positively. Orban must now take rapid measures to ensure that the funds "do not disappear in tricky ways in government-related 'family and friends' structures," said the CSU politician. The Commission must assess very precisely whether the reforms are sufficient. A purely superficial implementation of the announced measures against corruption is "unacceptable".
The Vice-President of the European Parliament, Katarina Barley (SPD), said that the Commission had finally decided “after a long struggle” to significantly cut EU funds for Hungary. It is questionable whether this would have happened without pressure from Parliament.
"No more full-fledged democracy"
The Commission and the Council of Member States must now show that they are serious about protecting the rule of law, Barley added. "Too often, the Commission has taken every little reform as a fig leaf to hide its own acquiescence in the face of the Orban regime."
A large majority in the European Parliament declared last week that Hungary was no longer a full-fledged democracy, but an "elective autocracy".
Hungary and Poland had appealed to the European Court of Justice that funds to which they were entitled were withheld for violations of the rule of law. However, the judges dismissed the lawsuits in February. Both states get billions from the common budget every year.
With agency material.