Dubbed “fortress Europe”, the EU has cracked down on member states attempting to rebel in recent weeks. This week, two EU countries felt the full force of Brussels disciplinary force as the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a financial threat to member states in a dire warning.
Hungary and Poland were both warned they could lose €100bn for refusing to abide by the EU’s core values.
Both nations have strong populist and nationalist movements, with both having toyed with the notion of leaving the bloc having both been highly disillusioned by Brussels.
Many EU member states in Eastern Europe claim inequality within the bloc, with Western states receiving more resources than their neighbours.
The ECJ, which has been deemed by many as a politically motivated body, has targeted Poland and Hungary over various issues.
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Specifically, the ECJ has ruled it admissible for the EU to continue withholding €7.2 billion in coronavirus relief funds.
And it also threatens Hungary’s access to the next EU budget.
Writing in Spiked!, Frank Furedi claimed: “Although the conflict between the EU bureaucracy and Hungary and Poland is long-standing, the timing of the court’s ruling is nonetheless significant.
“It tells us that one of the key objectives of this economic blackmail is to influence the outcome of the Hungarian General Election on 3 April.”
EU spending in Hungary equates to around 5 percent of its GDP.
Mr Furedi added: “The message is: vote against the government of Viktor Orban or else you, the people of Hungary, will suffer dire economic consequences.”
The Hungarian Prime Minister has long been accused by some in the country of severe corruption.
Reports from the country suggest Mr Orban has used his position to acquire land from local farmers in order to receive lucrative EU payouts from the Common Agriculture Policy or CAP.
A New York Times report in 2019 said: “Every year, the 28-country bloc pays out $65 billion in farm subsidies intended to support farmers around the Continent and keep rural communities alive.
“But across Hungary and much of Central and Eastern Europe, the bulk goes to a connected and powerful few.
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The report found Mr Orban uses European subsidies as a patronage system that enriches his friends and family, protects his political interests and punishes his rivals.
The NYT named the Prime Minister when it said: “Mr Orban’s government has auctioned off thousands of acres of state land to his family members and close associates, including one childhood friend who has become one of the richest men in the country.
“Those who control the land, in turn, qualify for millions in subsidies from the European Union.”
With news the ECJ is using its position to exert pressure on the Orban administration, some have reacted in delight.
According to Mr Furedi: “Opponents of the Orban government in Hungary are delighted by this helping hand from the ECJ.
“No doubt they will try to argue that unless they are elected in April, Hungary will become economically isolated.”
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Mr Furedi said: “In a democratic society, the rule of law requires an independent judiciary and a clear separation of power between the courts and political institutions.”
He added: “Unfortunately, the EU makes no such efforts to maintain this distinction.
“The EU regards its courts as instruments for promoting its political interests.
“Key EU policies are often communicated through judicial rulings, this allows the EU’s leaders to shirk responsibility for their actions.”
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