The EU is cutting off funding to Hungary, accusing its leader Viktor Orbán of eroding the country’s democracy and ruling as a dictator, further isolating one of the continent’s last Putin supporters.
Hungary, which has been led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban since 2010, may have to give up as much as 7.5 billion euros in funding from the European Union, which has accused the country’s leaders of democratic regression and corruption.
Lawmakers say Orban’s history of anti-democratic governance in Hungary, EU lawmakers said last week can no longer consider A “full democracy” enough to get the country out of the EU 1.2 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) shared budget.
On Sunday, the European Commission announced that lawmakers had proposed “Budget Protection Measures“This would severely limit funding to Hungary under the current EU budget system. If passed, it would be the first time the EU has enacted 2020 Law It aims to protect the EU budget from “abuse by EU governments that distort the rule of law”.
But beyond that, it would be the latest effort to democratize Hungary after years in office. be opposed to West imposes more aggressive sanctions on Russia, dubbed Vladimir Putin’s Trojan horse within the EU, and implemented from LGBTQ related content is prohibited In school stop muslim immigration at the border.
Cutting off EU funding for Hungary is the latest effort by Democratic Europe to limit the spread of authoritarianism and the erosion of democracy on the continent.
The law was implemented in response to criticize The EU budget is being used to help support populist and increasingly authoritarian regimes in parts of Eastern Europe.
In 2015, former European Commission President Jean-Claude Junckerner joked greet Orban at the EU summit in an unceremonious way: “Hello dictator!” Junkerner said.
But after years of the Hungarian government’s right-wing turn, what was once a joke is now a growing concern for European leaders.
During his 12 years in charge of Hungary, Orbán — who also served as prime minister from 1998 to 2002 — has Controlled independent media in the country, Illegally forced hundreds of judges to retire, Changed the country’s voting lawsand publicly support discriminatory speech LGBTQ community and migrant.
Orban’s actions – and about corruption Those linked to members of his ruling party, Fidesz, have urged the EU to consider limiting how much the bloc can actually fund his government.
“This is about undermining the rule of law in the use and management of EU funds,” EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn Say recommended measures. “We cannot conclude that the EU budget is adequately protected.”
The European Commission now has up to three months to decide whether to remove Hungary from the EU budget. During that time, Hungary will have to implement reforms to make its legislative process more transparent and create an effective anti-corruption watchdog if it wants to keep getting EU funding.
During his 12 years in power, Orban maintained a close relationship with Putin.
Orbán’s governance style has been consistent since his second term as prime minister in 2010. very similar How Putin has ruled Russia for the past two decades. both government Use coercive means to censor the media, and both leader Created support for itself through oligarchs — wealthy industry leaders at the top of government.
The two leaders have supported each other many times.Orban public not approved The EU imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014 and last April, Putin hails Orban’s victory in Hungary’s recent general election.
Hungary’s economy is closely linked to the EU Nearly 80% of exports. It is also highly dependent on Russia for energy use, imports 65% oil and 80% natural gas From Russia, far more than other European countries.Keeping Hungary’s energy links with Russia called central Orban and Fidesz want to stay in power.
Hungary’s dependence on Russian energy —and willingness to buy more– This is part of the reason why Orbán has spoken out against EU measures Ban on imports of Russian oil and Plan to sanction Russian gas imports.
Orban has been a useful ally of Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year. Hungarian leaders have been speaking out in the EU when Russia-related sanctions emerge, procrastination On the EU’s long-awaited Russian oil ban and Repeated threats to undermine the sanctions packageand no sign He will stop doing this soon.
In response to the EU’s decision on Sunday, Orbán’s Fidesz tried to discredit the bloc for smearing Hungary alone as the culprit, rather than focusing on problems on the continent. growing energy crisislargely due to Putin’s willingness to Use energy imports as blackmail To lift Western sanctions.
“It is shocking that even in the current crisis, the left-wing majority in the European Parliament is only busy attacking Hungary,” Fidesz said in a statement. statement last week.
“The left in Brussels wants to punish Hungary again and again and withhold money our country deserves.”
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