The European Commission on Wednesday initiated against Hungary a never-before-used procedure, the rule of law mechanism, that could see the Hungarian government stripped of funding for flouting democratic standards.
As the Hungarian state news agency MTI reports, Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration, was authorized to send a written notification to Hungary on the launch of the rule of law mechanism, Margaritis Schinas, the EU Commissioner for the Promotion of a European Way of Life, said.
Observers note that the European Commission has repeatedly clashed with the Hungarian government over its public procurement system, conflict of interests and corruption.
European Commission Transparency and Values Commissioner Vera Jourová said in a message posted on Twitter that a letter of notification would formally activate the conditionality mechanism to protect the EU budget.
"We have identified problems that could breach the rule of law in Hungary and have an impact on the EU budget," the EU commissioner said. Hungary must respond to the European Commission's concerns and propose measures to remedy the situation, she added.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Jourová also said the Commission's decision to open the procedure follows an earlier ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that the body must prove the link between the rule of law and the threats to the EU budget. She added that the suspension of budget payments could be linked to shortcomings in the anti-corruption strategy, among other things, and could affect a large part of EU funds, including cohesion and agricultural funds.
Johannes Hahn said in a Twitter message that the European Commission had sent a "first notification" to Hungary under the General Conditionality Mechanism Regulation. The Hungarian government must now respond to the European Commission's concerns, he said.
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