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EU Decides to Freeze Funds from “Corrupt” Member States

BUDAPEST – The European Parliament supported plans to freeze funds destined for corrupt EU Member States, undermining the rule of law and undermining democratic values, Reuters said Friday.
In an initiative that could raise tensions with the Hungarian and Polish governments, accused of weakening judicial independence, the project, could lead to a fierce battle between national governments when they discuss the EU budget for the post-Brexit budget later this year.
MEPs voted 397 to 158 for the bill that would give the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, the power to cut funds to states with “widespread state by right”.
Independent experts appointed by the national parliaments and the European Parliament would work with the Commission to assess the compliance of the member countries.
The right-wing Polish government PiS has put the country “in a situation of conflict with the EU following a series of controversial judicial reforms,” Euractiv News said.
At the same time, the Hungarian government led by Viktor Orban has had to face the European Parliament’s censorship for its increasingly authoritarian policy.
In its highly influential review of global rights, Human Rights Watch praised the EU for its response to the Orban regime after voting for the launch of a process that could lead to political sanctions under Article 7 of the EU Treaty.
But while Brussels has pursued existing avenues to tackle corrupt Member States, they are often cumbersome and slow.
Creating a link between the rule of law and EU funds would have a significant impact on some national budgets, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, where the European currency is an important part of infrastructure spending, said Guardian.
Public funds account for more than half of all public investment in Poland and Hungary.
The draft proposal is linked to an agreement on the EU’s next EUR 1 trillion budget, which covers funding and spending from 2021 to 2028, and must be approved by all EU Member States.
Germany, France and other EU countries lobbied for the bloc’s budget to be used to align stray countries, “but Warsaw and Budapest could veto measures that would deprive them of the right to EU vote,” says France 24.
As a sign of trouble, far-right Hungarian, Italian and Polish nationalist leaders have proposed this month to create a new anti-immigration “axis” to take control of the EU in the next elections to the European Parliament.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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