TheEuropean Union executive recommended on Sunday suspending some 7.5 billion euros in funding forHungary over corruption, the first such case in the 27-nation bloc under a new sanction meant to better protect the rule of law.
The EU introduced the new financial sanction two years ago precisely in response to what it says amounts to the undermining of democracy in Poland and Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban subdued courts, media, NGOs and academia, as well as restricting the rights of migrants, gays and women during more than a decade in power. “It’s about breaches of the rule of law compromising the use and management of EU funds,” said EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn. “We cannot conclude that the EU budget is sufficiently protected.” He highlighted systemic irregularities in Hungary’s public procurement laws, insufficient safeguards against conflicts of interest, weaknesses in effective prosecution and shortcomings in other anti-graft measures. Read more: Hungary turns to Russia’s Gazprom for increased gas supplies: foreign minister Hahn said the Commission was recommending the suspension of about a third of cohesion funds envisaged for Hungary from the bloc’s shared budget for 2021-27 worth a total of 1.1 trillion euros.
The 7.5 billion euros in question amounts to five per cent of the country’s estimated 2022 GDP. EU countries now have up to three months to decide on the proposal.