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EU Triggers Process to Withhold Funds from Hungary for “Rule-of-Law” Violations by David Boos

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EU Triggers Process to Withhold Funds from Hungary for “Rule-of-Law” Violations

A rule-of-law mechanism directed against the Hungarian government was officially launched on April 27th. It is the execution of a resolution, adopted on March 10th, to withhold funds from any member states that fail to fulfill the rule-of-law principles of the European Union (the European Conservative reported). Věra Jourová, the Vice President for Values and Transparency for the European Commission, confirmed as much. According to the so-called “budget conditionality procedure,” Hungary might see its EU funds withheld for “issues that might be breaching the rule of law,” Jourová tweeted. An official notification letter has been sent to the Hungarian government with a deadline of two months to reply.

Earlier in April, EU Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen had announced, only a few days after Viktor Orbán’s resounding victory, the engagement of the conditionality clause over concerns of corruption and fraud in Hungary. The procedure allows the EU to take punishing financial measures if it finds that European funds are not being used for their intended purpose—if the rule of law, defined according to the value system of the EU, is being violated. Such measures could include recovering funds, withholding future funds, and reducing costs or payments.

The conflict between Hungary and the EU has been brooding since Hungary introduced its child protection law last summer, which the EU considered discriminatory against the LGBTQ community. Already in March, when the resolution had been adopted, Hungarian Socialist (MZSP) MEP István Ujhelyi blackmailed the Hungarian public by suggesting that Hungary would need to “change governments in April if it wants to access the billions it is entitled to in EU funding.”

Following the European Commission’s decision to activate the rule-of-law mechanism, politicians of the Hungarian opposition welcomed the move by the EU. “Europe is strong, Orbán has lost,” celebrated Democratic Coalition (DK) MEP Klára Dobrev. The independent MP Ákos Hadházy expected Fidesz to instrumentalize the EU’s decision to “continue the war with the ‘evil’ Brussels.”

Meanwhile, MEP Andor Deli of the ruling Fidesz criticized the mechanism as being “difficult to understand from a legal or practical point of view.” According to Deli, the EU penalizes the Hungarian government for “daring to envision a conservative nation in Europe,” but he insisted that “Hungary will not budge on two issues: we will stay out of the war and protect our children.”

David Boos is an organist, documentary filmmaker, and writer for The European Conservative and other publications.