The rogue state stands to be given a foreign aid handout of around £4.8 billion to tackle the global pandemic despite the European Commission openly criticising prime minister Viktor Orban suspending the country’s democracy, a leading think-tank has revealed. The authoritarian leader launched a controversial power grab, allowing him to indefinitely rule by decree, as part of his country’s fight against the deadly disease. Despite his move receiving considerable criticism, Mr Orban still stands to be one of the big winners from the EU’s £32 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.
The fund, announced by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, uses unspent cohesion fund cash to provide emergency relief.
It is due to be distributed in line with the rules that govern the EU’s regional aid programme.
As a result, Hungary is one of the major recipients despite being relatively unscathed by the coronavirus crisis.
Budapest is set to receive £4.8 billion, while Italy, the bloc’s worst-affected country, was only handed £2 billion and Spain just £3.5 billion, according to analysis by European Stability Initiative think-tank.
Rome has had to deal with over 23,000 deaths related to the global pandemic, and is the world’s second-worst hit country behind the United States.
More than 20,000 deaths have been reported in Spain and over 200,000 recorded cases.
Whereas Hungary has managed to contain the spread to just 1,984 infections and 199 deaths.
Gerald Knaus, chairman of the European Stability Initiative, called for the processes behind the distribution of EU funds to be overhauled.
“If this doesn’t lead to a wake-up call, then the EU is suicidal,” he warned.
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A statement by his think-tank goes further, insisting the EU should attach behaviour clauses to its cash distribution.
“EU members who care about both solidarity and the rule of law must find ways to avoid a repetition of the Hungarian tragedy,” it states.
“The logic of future European assistance must change, otherwise EU funds risk strengthening the very political forces bent on undermining the EU itself.
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“And while creating a link between European assistance and the rule of law, between solidarity and respect of commonly agreed principles, is more crucial than ever, this may simply not be possible within the framework of the EU27, where every member has a veto.
“March 30, 2020 was a dark day in the history of EU assistance. It highlighted the fact that this system of solidarity had gone fundamentally wrong.
“Europeans now need to find better ways to defend the values enshrined in their treaties, not with pious words and empty threats, but in the language of power and money that politicians like Orban will understand.”
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