EU Commission moves to ban Hungary’s access to funds over corruption allegations

The European Union’s executive branch has proposed suspending €7.5 billion in financing for Hungary, as it awaits anti-corruption reforms from Budapest.

Sunday’s move by the European Commission comes as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government is under renewed fire for its close ties with Moscow, as Budapest is accused of having dragged its feet on freezing Russian assets since the invasion of Ukraine.

The European Union and Hungary have been at loggerheads for months, with Brussels suspecting the government led by nationalist leader Orban of undercutting the rule of law and using EU money to enrich its cronies.

The European Commission’s budget commissioner, Johannes Hahn, told journalists on Sunday that the bloc’s executive had proposed suspending funding “amounting to [an] estimated amount of €7.5 billion.”

On Saturday, Hungary’s government said that MPs would vote next week on a series of laws aimed at easing the conflict.

The measures are expected to include setting up independent anti-corruption watchdogs to monitor the use of EU funds as well as steps to make the legislative process more transparent.

Hahn said he was “very confident that … we will see significant reforms in Hungary, which indeed will be a game changer.”

He added that Hungary has committed to “fully inform” the commission about implementing measures to address their concerns by 19 November.

Pending implementation of the remedial measures by #Hungary, the @EU_Commission
College has today decided to propose budget protection measures to the Council under the rule of law #conditinality regulation.— Didier Reynders (@dreynders) September 18, 2022

‘Trojan horse’

Poland – another eastern EU member accused of flouting the rule of law – said it would fully oppose any measure depriving Hungary of the funds.

Nationalist Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Sunday that such a move would be “absolutely unauthorised.”

Italy’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni – tipped for victory in the upcoming general election – has also criticised the EU’s threat, warning that sanctions could push countries towards Russia.

The EU’s Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders added to the tensions between Brussels and Hungary after commenting that the Hungarian government’s friendliness with the Kremlin was potentially behind its foot-dragging on implementing anti-Russian sanctions.

“We must put a lot of pressure” on Hungary because “we can assume that its very close ties with Russia are perhaps preventing it from acting“, he told television channel LCI.

While the EU has frozen over €14 billion worth of Russian assets, Hungary has only blocked a paltry €3000. 

Meanwhile in Ukraine, presidential advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak described Hungary as a “Trojan horse seeking the collapse of [the] EU at the expense of European taxpayers.

“Let’s call a spade a spade … Orban hates Ukraine and dreams of [a] ‘Russian world’ in Europe. Should [the] EU finance these diversions?” he wrote on Twitter.

Orbán says that he will fight for the lifting of sanctions against 🇷🇺. Let’s call a spade a spade. Hungary – Trojan horse seeking the collapse of 🇪🇺 at the expense of European taxpayers. Orbán hates 🇺🇦 and dreams of “Russian world” in Europe. Should EU finance these diversions?— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) September 18, 2022

Orban’s ‘last chance’?

However, Orban’s administration has struck a softer tone towards Brussels of late. 

Justice Minister Judit Varga reacted to the Commission’s proposal by acknowledging that “we still have work to do” to end the row, while insisting: “We are moving in the right direction.

“We are working to ensure that the Hungarian people receive the resources they are entitled to!” Varga commented on social media this Sunday.

The Hungarian minister in charge of negotiations with the EU, Tibor Navracsics told reporters that he was confident that “we can conclude these negotiations before the end of the year and sign the related agreements” to enable the release of the funds.

Dernière chance pour Viktor #Orbán.

Deux issues désormais :

1. Soit il met fin à la corruption et au dépérissement des institutions démocratiques de la Hongrie.

2. Soit nous lui retirons 7,5 milliards aujourd’hui, et plus encore demain.

Le temps des discussions est terminé.— Valérie Hayer (@ValerieHayer) September 18, 2022

But German MEP Daniel Freund has said that although the freezing of funds to Hungary was not enough to “stop Orban and his cronies from stealing EU funds”.

“Those are good measures, and they should be adopted, but they are not sufficient to stop corruption, let alone to make Hungary a functioning democracy,” he added.

French European Parliament member Valerie Hayer tweeted that this was the “last chance” for Orban.

“The time for discussions is over,” she said.

The final decision on the proposal will be taken by the EU Council.

On Thursday, the European Parliament declared that Hungary was no longer a “full democracy” in a symbolic vote that infuriated Budapest.


  1. “Italy’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni – tipped for victory in the upcoming general election – has also criticised the EU’s threat, warning that sanctions could push countries towards Russia.”

    If that’s so, let Orban get his money from his boss in the Kremlin.

    Liked by 3 people

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