Will Brussels freeze out Budapest? Source: GZERO Media

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Will Brussels freeze out Budapest?

The European Union’s executive reportedly plans to recommend withholding billions of dollars in funds to Hungary due to alleged corruption by the Hungarian government. What’s more, in a symbolic vote on Thursday, the European Parliament declared Hungary a “hybrid electoral autocracy,” a scathing condemnation of PM Viktor Orbán’s leadership. Brussels and Budapest have long been on a collision course over the latter’s erosion of democratic norms since Orbán’s conservative Fidesz Party came to power in 2012. Hungary is hoping to unlock more than 40 billion euros of EU funding over the next five years, but the EU alleges that Budapest has failed to reform its public procurement process, which undermines competition and favors government allies. If Brussels follows through, it would send a worrying message to other rogue EU states – like Poland – that have been at loggerheads with Brussels over rule-of-law issues.

A final decision will be released Sunday and would need to be passed by a majority of member states to take effect. Orbán, who has long relished his reputation as an anti-EU warrior, has reason to worry given that annual inflation in Hungary hit a whopping 15.6% in August and the currency continues to depreciate.

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