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EU advances on linking funding of Poland, Hungary, to rule of law

| 2021-11-23 < 1 min read

EU advances on linking funding of Poland, Hungary, to rule of law

Reading Time: < 1 minute

The European Commission (EC) has ordered Hungary and Poland to account for alleged rule of law violations that may significantly affect funding to two of the bloc’s biggest recipients.

Poland has been given two months to clarify what ruling party PiS calls a “streamlining” of its judicial system, but which the EC sees as threatening independence and the primacy of EU law – freezing EUR36 billion in COVID-19 economic recovery funds in response.

Hungary meanwhile must explain “persistent” deficiencies and weaknesses in the country’s procurement rules to receive EUR 7.2 billion from the COVID-19 recovery fund. Viktor Orban’s Fidesz government has been asked to details the biggest winners regarding EU farming subsidies. According to a tweet by MEP Daniel Freund, the EC’s letter explicitly demands that Hungary: “provide a list of the ten people or groups who receive the highest share of the billions of euros of EU farming subsidies that Hungary receives.”

The letters, which have not been made public, were sent to the members states’ respective EU ambassadors and selected news outlets. The Financial Times wrote that the correspondence, sent on Friday, represent “an informal step towards a decision in the coming months by Brussels over whether to trigger a new rule of law conditionality mechanism which would permit EU funds to be held back”, the UK business daily underlined.

Freund commented that “given the depth of the EC analysis it is unthinkable that they would approve the Polish and Hungarian recovery plans – pumping billions into broken systems. If (President of the European Commission Ursula) von der Leyen decides to do so, she would act against her very own EU Commission,” he added.