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Germany ponders cutting funds for EU rule breakers

June 2nd, 2017

As Germany looks into freezing the EU funding of countries that violate the rule of law, a left-wing columnist supposes that the government might quit the EU if no EU funds were forthcoming. A liberal commentator suggests that it is unlikely that such punitive mechanisms will be implemented.

According to EU sources, the German government is to propose that after 2020, EU funding be made conditional on meeting the standards of the rule of law. It would also earmark the EU funds for country specific development purposes. The German government intends to propose to the European Commission to freeze the cohesion funding of states that do not comply.

Népszava’s Tamás Bihari takes it for granted that Hungary is one of the rule-breakers the proposal is intended to punish. The left-wing commentator accuses the Hungarian government of using EU funds to offer lucrative contracts to its economic hinterland rather than using them to develop Hungary. Bihari speculates that in the absence of EU funding, PM Orbán may want to lead Hungary out of the European Union, which could have a catastrophic impact on the country’s future.

On Index, the Eurologus blog predicts that the proposal will make the debate over the EU budget even more desperate. The liberal blogger interprets earlier criticism of Hungary by the European Commission as accusations about violations of the rule of law. So far, he points out, such allegations have not been substantiated by any formal procedure. The proposed freezing of transfers could be used as a more easily applicable punishment mechanism against countries that do not comply with EU norms, Eurologus believes. But as the EU budget needs to be approved by all member states, any country may veto the new measures, if they are proposed by Germany, Eurologus points out.

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