Hungary, Poland Face EU Fund Freezes after Rule of Law Report Criticism

However, the stinging criticisms of Hungary and Poland, which are the only two member states currently under formal EU investigation into their undermining of the rule of law, indicates much harsher measures are in the pipeline, such as the withholding of billions of euros in EU funds designed to help member states' economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

"The second edition shows that member states can make progress to address rule of law matters. Yet this has been uneven and there are causes for serious concern in a number of member states, especially when it comes to the independence of judiciary. Moreover, two journalists were murdered over the past months - this is not acceptable," Vera Jourova, vice-president for values and transparency, said.

Didier Reynders, the European commissioner for justice, was more explicit when he told Hungarian news site Eurologus ahead of the release of the 2021 report that while it aims to foster a dialogue among member states, this apparently does not seem to work in the cases of Hungary and Poland.

This is no longer about prevention but about sanctions.

- Didier Reynders, European commissioner for justice

Reynders said the Commission will not endorse Hungary's coronavirus recovery plan, which requests 7.2 billion euros in non-returnable grants from the EU's Recovery and Resilience Fund, until major judiciary reforms are implemented and the government provides adequate guarantees that corruption cases uncovered by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) will be properly investigated by the national authorities.

"This is no longer about prevention but about sanctions," Reynders said, adding that the Commission is ready to deploy all measures - including...

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