European heavyweights have called on Brussels to cut funding to Hungary, according to a letter obtained exclusively by Euronews.
The document, addressed to EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker, says money flows to Budapest should be turned off until “basic democratic freedoms are reinstated and corruption counteracted”.
It also claims there is little press freedom in Hungary, universities have lost their independence, and key public institutions have been “de facto taken over” by the ruling Fidesz party.
The correspondence - dated November 23, 2017 - was signed by Hans Eichel, Germany’s former finance minister, and three ex-EU commissioners: Pascal Lamy, Franz Fischler and Yannis Paleokrassas.
It reads: “A temporary cessation is what this situation requires; all funding can and should be restored as soon as basic democratic freedoms are reinstated and corruption counter-acted.
“We strongly believe that this is also a pre-condition for continuing EU funding to less developed regions – which is indispensable for the future of the European Union – in the period following 2020 in light of growing resentment all over Europe about the inefficient and improper use of EU funds.
“It is the Commission’s duty to protect the EU’s financial interests. The Commission should live up to its duty concerning Hungary without any further delay.”
Hungary Prime Minister Vicktor Orban has regularly clashed with Brussels, in particular over its migration policies.
The European Commission says Hungary received 5.63 billion euros in funding from Brussels in 2015, while the letter claims 95 percent of public investment projects in the country are co-financed by the EU.