VDL pulls Orban's funding in response to an EU rule-of-law dispute, causing Hungary to split the bloc.

VDL pulls Orban’s funding in response to an EU rule-of-law dispute, causing Hungary to split the bloc.

The European Union’s executive committee recommended on Wednesday that billions of euros in EU funds allocated to Hungary be kept frozen due to the country’s failure to implement solid rule-of-law reforms, highlighting the growing chasm between the EU’s traditional Western democratic values and its partner’s democratic backsliding.

The EU’s 27 member states have until December 19 to make a decision based on the Commission’s proposal, which comes as Hungary continues to block critical EU decisions such as the transfer of €18 billion in financial assistance to Ukraine and a worldwide tax agreement.

The topic will be discussed at Tuesday’s Ecofin meeting of EU finance ministers.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has also enraged EU leaders with his frequent criticism of EU sanctions punishing Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

Hungary consented to 17 anti-corruption measures, including the establishment of an anti-corruption task force and modifications to its public procurement regulations, but the Commission feels that “notwithstanding steps taken, there is still a continued risk to the EU budget.

“The funds may be suspended under a newly implemented conditionality mechanism that empowers the EU to adopt budget-protection actions.

Any move to suspend the funding must be authorised by the EU member nations, which needs a “qualified majority” of 55 percent of the 27 members, or at least 65 percent of the total EU population.

The Commission approved Hungary’s pandemic recovery plan worth €5.8 billion at the same time, but only if the nation meets 27 “super milestones,” including the preceding 17 measures.

At the present rate of progress, Hungary is unlikely to get any funds until the spring.

“Navracsics said that Hungary’s government is “open for compromise” and that a deal with the Commission may be achieved before the end of the year. “

Hungary, a major receiver of EU money, has come under fire for deviating from democratic principles.

For almost a decade, the Commission has accused Orban of undermining democratic institutions, seizing control of the media, and violating minority rights.

If EU nations opt to suspend access to cohesion funding until Hungary achieves the requisite requirements, Budapest will not lose money immediately.

Hungary would no longer be able to apply for EU subsidies for programmes and infrastructure projects, but the decision would not prevent it from receiving money under the previous long-term budget for the 2014-2020 period.

Source: Hungary splits bloc as VDL cuts funds short for Orban over EU rule-of-law row

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