EU may punish Hungary – media — Analysis

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the European Commission would recommend withholding money from Hungary’s government in response to allegations of corruption. Bloomberg confirmed earlier Hungarian media reports. It is possible that the assessment could be released as soon as Sunday.

Following Viktor Orban’s victory in the April general election, which saw a huge turnout, the EU opened an investigation against Hungary. The investigation was triggered under a recently adopted EU law that links payments of subsidies to member states to their compliance with the bloc’s rule-of-law norms.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, the European Commission is almost ready to release its conclusions. According to senior EU officials, the Executive Body will suggest reducing funding to ensure better adherence to norms.

The final decision will be made within three months after the report is released, with a qualified majority of votes by the bloc’s members required to adopt it.

Brussels may give Budapest a grace period of up to three months to follow its recommendations and to implement a number of measures that the Hungarian government promised to enact to alleviate the EU’s concerns, according to Bloomberg.

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EUobserver reports that as many as 70% of EU funds due in 2021-2027 could be withheld from Hungary because it is not complying. The total sum would amount to over €40 billion, according to the Bloomberg report. During the probe, the Orban government was prevented from receiving EU money.

Budapest’s anti-corruption proposals for late August included the creation of a new authority that would oversee EU funding and amendments to Hungarian laws regarding public procurements. The country’s justice minister, Judit Varga, met EU officials last week to discuss the package.

Nepszava, a Hungarian newspaper published the first details of the time frame for the publication of the graft investigation on Tuesday evening. Its sources said that 20% of EU subsidies were at risk of being suspended unless Budapest meets Brussels’ demands.

This punishment would, if it were to be implemented, mark the first such case. EU leadership expressed concerns over the state of law in several Eastern European nations, especially Hungary and Poland.

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