Because of corruption and violations of the rule of law in Hungary, the European Commission has proposed to cut payments of about 7.5 billion euros from the EU budget to the country. This was announced by EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn in Brussels on Sunday. It is the first time that the EU Commission has proposed this step due to rule of law shortcomings in an EU country.
The money from the EU budget is not sufficiently protected from misuse in Hungary, the Austrian said. At the same time, he praised the commitments that the Hungarian government had recently made to address the existing shortcomings. "Hungary has actually moved," Hahn said. In order for the country to actually cut money from the EU budget, at least 15 countries with 65 percent of the EU population would now have to agree to the proposal.
Ursula von der Leyen's authority 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 such as the separation of powers no longer go unpunished. The decisive factor here is that the deficits threaten to misuse EU funds.
Because Poland and Hungary see themselves as being particularly in the spotlight, both had taken legal action against it before the European Court of Justice. However, the Court rejected the complaints in February. Both countries receive billions annually from the EU budget.
Hungary had recently shown some willingness to compromise with the EU Commission, but did not dispel the authority's concerns. Therefore, it has now initiated the next step in the rule-of-law procedure. The authority is also currently blocking several billion euros in Corona aid for Hungary. It is the only country that has so far been unable to agree with the EU Commission on a plan for using the money.
Photo by Guillaume Perigois