Hungary is finally effectively called back: if the country does not work on the fight against corruption, the money tap will be turned off.
For years, the European Union has been biting its teeth on the many headache files from Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. For example, since he took office as prime minister again in 2010, the constitution has been tampered with and laws have been introduced that marginalize the opposition. In addition, elections have been rigged, the rule of law has been undermined, press freedom has been curtailed, and LGBTI individuals and immigrants in the country have been attacked in the name of “Christian values.”
Just last week, the European Parliament ruled that Hungary is no longer a fully-fledged democracy, but Orbán probably didn’t even bat an eyelid. He has been called into question so many times, and has never been sensitive to a moral appeal or diplomatic pressure – much to the frustration of Brussels, which for a long time seemed to be at a loss for this rebellious Member State (which incidentally owes Poland to Poland on many issues). silk found).
Now, however, the new rule of law test seems to have developed a weapon that does have an effect: if Hungary does not take action in the fight against corruption, the money tap will be turned off. This mechanism comes from Rutte, who in 2020 insisted on being able to stop the flow of EU money in advance if the recipient EU country cannot guarantee that it will be spent well.
And Hungary couldn’t, the European Commission ruled: in recent years a lot of EU money has ended up with Orbán’s allies and relatives, and the national prosecutor (a former Orbán party member) was not enthusiastic about fraud investigations. A cut in the EU money flow is therefore ‘appropriate’, the Commission stated. For the first time, Orban did bounce back, and Budapest proved willing to make the requested legal changes.
He desperately needs the money: the value of the Hungarian currency is falling at a time when life is also becoming more and more expensive in Hungary. And so Orbán suddenly reaches out to Brussels, promising, for example, a control system for the spending of EU grants that is ‘stricter than ever’.
It is certainly to be welcomed that this new EU weapon finally seems to be having an effect. But it is no guarantee of change: Hungary’s main institutions are all under the control of Orbán’s party, and they have an interest in perpetuating corruption. Brussels must be very careful not to let itself be tampered with.
The position of the newspaper is expressed in the Volkskrant Commentaar. It is created after a discussion between the commentators and the editor-in-chief.