EU’s top court approves linking funds to respect for rule of law in blow to Hungary and Poland

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European Court of Justice’s ruling could cut billions of euros to member states who flout democratic values.

The European Union’s top court has ruled that funding to member states who undermine the rule of law can be cut, dismissing a legal challenge from Hungary and Poland.

Wednesday’s long-awaited landmark judgment by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) gives the green light for the enforcement of a tool that blocks funding for EU countries that flout democratic rights and freedoms.

The ruling – which cannot be appealed – will anger Budapest and Warsaw, who have faced criticism within the bloc for stifling the rights of women, LGBT+ people and migrants, as well as diminishing the freedom of judges, the media and civil society.

About 36 billion euros (£30 billion) in pandemic recovery funds earmarked for Poland, and 7 billion euros for Hungary, are already frozen over their track record on democracy, and it will likely take several months until the process of cutting handouts starts.

Warsaw is eligible for more than 75 billion euros in EU funding until 2027, while at least 22.5 billion euros is at stake for Budapest.


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