EU could cut funds for Hungary over alleged rule-of-law violations
The European Union could potentially phase out support for one of its biggest beneficiaries, Hungary, over allegations of violating rule of law.
The European Commission recommended Sunday to freeze billions of euros meant for Hungary over allegations of Budapest violating rule-of-law. However, the government's proposals for actions that would fix the domestic situation could help Hungary dodge sanctions.
"The Commission proposes a suspension of 65% of the commitments for three operational programs under cohesion policy, amounting to an estimated 7.5 billion euros [$7.5 billion]," Budget and Administration Commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters.
The Council of the European Union has one month to approve the measure that would cost Hungary a third of its funding. The eastern European country is one of the EU's top beneficiaries - second after Poland.
The European Union launched the rule-of-law mechanism back in April after accusing Budapest of curtailing judiciary and freedom of the press.
Hungary submitted in the past few months remedial measures to mitigate Brussels' concerns, but the latter said the EU budget was still at risk "pending the fulfillment of the key implementation steps."
Hungarian EU Affairs Minister Tibor Navracsics said on Friday that his country was willing to make concessions to Brussels in order to avoid EU funding cuts for "violating the rule of law."
That came a day after the European Parliament approved a report calling for the European Council to recognize the existence of a "clear risk" of Hungary violating EU values.
The minister went on to say that there was agreement in Hungary on an anti-corruption authority, which could serve as proof of Budapest's willingness to keep its promises.
In July 2020, EU leaders agreed to establish the NextGenerationEU instrument, a $750 billion rescue fund designed to assist EU member states in mitigating the economic effects of COVID-19 restrictions. These are distinct from the recently approved EU budget of 1.082 trillion euros for the period 2021-2027.
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