BRUSSELS ( Associated Press) — The European Union’s executive branch recommended Wednesday that billions of euros in EU funding be halted for Hungary because it has failed to implement reforms that strengthen the rule of law, A decision that exposed growing differences between the European partners.
The Council, which represents the 27 countries in the group, has until December 19 to decide on the basis of the European Commission’s proposal, as Hungary vetoes important group decisions such as the disbursement of 18 billion euros of financial aid to Ukraine and Ukraine. continued to block. A comprehensive tax deal.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has angered officials in the bloc with his repeated criticism of EU sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine.
Although Hungary insists it does not combine the issue of EU funding with other issues, many in Brussels see the veto as a sign that Orban will give the rest of the bloc billions in EU funding and pandemic recovery cash. is trying to blackmail him into releasing him. You have been blocked.
The EU’s executive branch proposed in September that the bloc suspend regular payments of 7.5 billion euros ($7.5 billion) to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and possible mismanagement of EU funds.
Hungary agreed to take 17 anti-corruption measures, such as creating an anti-corruption force and changing its rules for awarding public contracts, but the commission believes it has not done enough to solve the problems.
“The Commission concludes that, despite the measures taken, there remains a continuing risk to the EU budget,” the Commission said.
The money could be pooled through a new conditional mechanism that allows the EU to take steps to protect its budget.
Any move to suspend funds requires the approval of a “qualified majority” of member states, meaning 55% of the 27 members representing at least 65% of the group’s total population.
The commission also approved Hungary’s €5.8bn pandemic recovery plan, but only on condition that the country introduces 27 “super-milestones”, including 17 measures to resolve the dispute over the cohesion fund.
“This means that it is not possible to make any (recovery plan) payments until Hungary fully and correctly implements these 27 super-milestones,” the commission said.
Given the current pace of negotiations, it is unlikely that Hungary will receive any funds before spring.
Hungary, a major recipient of European money, has come under criticism for deviating from democratic norms. For nearly a decade, the commission has accused Orban of subverting democratic institutions, controlling the media and violating the rights of minorities. Orban, who has been in office since 2010, denies the allegations.
If member states decide to block their access to the cohesion fund until Hungary is eligible, Budapest will not immediately lose money. Hungary will not be able to apply again for subsidies designed for European programs and infrastructure, but this decision will not prevent it from receiving funds coming from the previous long-term budget for the period 2014-2020.