The EU is tough on Hungary by cutting support money

On September 14, EU MPs voted on a resolution saying Hungary had “seriously violated” EU democratic norms, with 433 votes in favour and 123 against.

A day later, Hungary reacted angrily to the vote in the European Parliament, when EU MPs agreed that the country was no longer an “inclusive democracy” and that the EU needed to act.

But on September 17, hungary’s government announced next week that parliament would vote on a series of laws aimed at defusing tensions.

Prime Minister Gergely Gulyas’ chief of staff said the laws were expected to come into force in November, including the creation of an independent body to oversee the use of EU-issued subsidies to the country.

On September 18, the European Union’s Budget Committee (EU) recommended suspending about 7.5 billion euros of funding for Hungary over corruption concerns, under a new sanction aimed at better protecting the rule of law model.

The EU introduced the financial sanctions 2 years ago, in response to what it sees as the destruction of democracy in Poland and Hungary.

According to this decision, Hungary is the first case to face the risk of suspension of funding for this reason in the 27-nation EU bloc.

Earlier, the EU accused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of limiting the power of the courts, controlling the media, NGOs and academia, as well as restricting the rights of migrants, gays and women for more than 10 years in power.

EU Budget Committee member Johannes Hahn sees the situation in Hungary as exemplary of “a violation of the rule of law affecting the use and management of EU funds”. “We cannot be sure that the EU budget is preserved,” Hahn said.

Hahn highlighted the problems Hungary is facing such as systemic irregularities in public procurement laws, the absence of measures to combat conflicts of interest, weakness in effective prosecutions and omissions in other anti-corruption measures.

According to Hahn, the EU Budget Committee recommended the suspension of about 1/3 of the linked funds planned for Hungary.

The fund comes from the EU’s €1.1 trillion overall budget for 2021-2027.

The €7.5 billion fund for Hungary is equivalent to 5% of the country’s GDP estimated to be achieved in 2022.

EU countries now have 3 months to make a decision on the Budget Committee’s proposal.

Orban’s government has proposed the creation of a new anti-corruption agency in recent weeks. Orban denied that Hungary was facing more serious corruption than other EU countries.

Commissioner Hahn said Hungary’s latest promise to address the EU’s criticisms was a significant step forward, but still had to be translated into new laws and practical actions for the EU to have peace of mind.

The EU Budget Committee has blocked another €6 billion fund because of similar concerns. This is the planned fund for Hungary to recover from COVID-19.