December 2, 2022

EU squeezes Hungary funding while seeking its backing against Russia

The EU ramped up financial pressure on Hungary’s nationalist prime minister just as it needs his support to extend sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Drew Hinshaw writes in the Wall Street Journal.

The European Commission on Sunday proposed freezing €7.5 billion in EU payments for Hungary. It said the country’s weak democratic institutions could no longer safeguard those funds from corruption, deepening a conflict between Brussels and a government the EU’s parliament claimed last week was an “electoral autocracy.”

Sunday’s decision has been building for years, as the European institutions sought ways to pressure Hungary over what they see as the undemocratic concentration of power under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has led the country since 2010. 

Hungary’s management of EU spending has frequently been the target of antifraud investigations by an EU agency. Still, the latest decision represents a significant escalation, hitting Hungary’s government funding and economy, both dependent on financing from the EU.

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