Hungary: Budapest hit by first round of sanctions
14 March 2012
"Punished by Brussels," notes Hungarian centre-left daily Népszabadság. Meeting on Tuesday, EU finance ministers voted to suspend the attribution of €495 million in cohesion funds destined for Hungary. The threat of a freeze in EU funds, due to its excessive budget deficit, has loomed over Budapest since last February. In a leader article, Népszabadság says that -
... this should not have happened. When [Viktor] Orbán was elected, he was surrounded by influential friends in a conservative Europe. There could be wide-spread optimism that the Hungarian Prime Minister would achieve his objectives. But these objectives did not exist [...] The government, which is always touting national interests, has only managed to achieve what the European Commission considers an exemplary punishment. [...] Yes, this is a historic day. No European government had ever yet been so foolish.
Speaking for the right-wing, Magyar Nemzet shows signs of resignation -
The bell tolls for us. [...] We were sent a preventive strike to warn all the spendthrift countries. We are a dissuasive example. [...] The irony of it all is that the legal basis for this ruling was approved in 2011 – under the Hungarian EU presidency.