The European Commission, amid concerns about corruption, has called for the blocking of 7.5 billion euros of funds dedicated to Hungary.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for the Budget and Administration, said that the figure amounts to about a third of the funds that the country received from the EU budget, Telegrafi reports.
For Brussels, the Council’s recommendation for the approval of this punitive measure is the next step in the process of the rule of law mechanism.
The mechanism, which was approved by the European Court of Justice just weeks ago after a challenge from Budapest and Poland, allows Brussels to impose financial sanctions on member states “to protect the budget” if they are deemed to have breached the core values of EU.
“The decision to impose the financial penalty was made unanimously by the commissioners during the Board’s extraordinary meeting earlier this morning,” Hahn said.
He stressed that Budapest has outlined 17 corrective measures since Brussels activated the conditionality mechanism and that these “in principle should be able to address the issues described in the notice” including “systematic irregularities” in the public procurement process, conflict of interest from the government.
Hahn also stressed that this is only if they are “implemented accordingly” and that the time frame remains “very tight” and that concrete change in practice would also take time.
“The risk for the budget at this stage remains, therefore we cannot conclude that the EU budget is sufficiently protected”, he continued.
Sunday’s announcement comes just three days after MPs declared that Hungary is no longer a fully functioning democracy but a “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy”.
In their resolution, European lawmakers blame Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for changing the rule of law in the Eastern European country.