The executive of the European Union proposed on Sunday that Hungary’s funding of roughly 7.5 billion euros be suspended due to corruption. This is the first such recommendation in the 27-nation bloc under a new sanction designed to better preserve the rule of law.
The EU has long criticised Hungary’s public procurement laws for lacking enough anti-corruption protections, which result in an excessive number of single bids and encourage misconduct. The European Commission, which meets in Brussels every Sunday at 0630, is scheduled to vote on a proposal to withhold up to 10 percent of Hungary’s GDP, or 1.1 trillion euros, from the bloc’s shared budget for the years 2021 to 27.
In response to what it claims to be the undermining of democracy in Poland and Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban subdued courts, media, NGOs, and academia while in power for more than ten years, as well as restricting the rights of migrants, gays, and women, the EU introduced the new financial sanction two years ago.
The proposal would be sent to EU member states, who would then have up to three months to decide on it in a majority vote. As a result, no single state could obstruct the punishment, unlike under the existing, inadequate democratic policing system of the union. Orban, who describes himself as a “freedom fighter” against the liberal West’s worldview, disputes the idea that Hungary, an ex-communist nation with a population of about 10 million, is more corrupt than other EU members.
According to the Commission, money intended for Hungary under a separate COVID economic recovery stimulus programme has already been blocked because of the possibility of misuse. Human rights organisations claim that Orban’s practise of enriching his inner circle and allowing the 59-year-old to solidify his position in power through the channelling of EU development funds to his friends and family to his friends and family has been recorded by Reuters in 2018.
Despite being under pressure to reach a deal with Brussels to guarantee funding for his faltering economy and the forint, the worst-performing currency in the eastern EU, he has long refused to change his laws. CORRUPTION
According to the EU’s anti-fraud organisation OLAF, Hungary had irregularities in approximately 4% of EU money spent from 2015 to 2019. This was by far the worst performance among the 27 EU member states. Due to “fraud and suspected corruption,” OLAF stated in 2016 that Budapest should recoup more than 280 million euros spent on the Budapest metro. Although Hungary has managed to avoid significant financial penalties since entering the EU in 2004, as the EU tests its new preemptive censure, this may no longer be the case.
By maintaining his tight ties with President Vladimir Putin and threatening to undermine EU unity needed to impose and uphold sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, Orban has also angered many in the bloc.
- In a first, EU appears to be considering cut money for Hungary in order to protect democracy
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