The European Parliament's legal affairs committee has thrown its weight behind suing the European Commission over a decision to unfreeze 10 billion euros ($11 billion) for Hungary, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

European lawmakers have accused the commission of in December caving in to pressure from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who was blocking efforts to support Ukraine. 

The parliament believes that Hungary has not met the rule-of-law thresholds set by the Commission to warrant releasing the frozen funds.

Such a lawsuit is "an extreme step but a necessary one," said German MEP Sergey Lagodinsky, who sits on the committee.

"We cannot allow the Commission and the (European) Council to continue giving Viktor Orban leverage to blackmail the EU, block the necessary decisions and continue his attacks on the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in the country," he said.

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The move is intended to send a reprimand to Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen as she seeks a second term as the head of the EU's executive.

The commission – the EU's executive tasked with protecting the bloc's treaties – announced on Dec. 13 that it was unfreezing the 10 billion euros for Hungary.

The announcement was made on the eve of a critical EU summit in December to decide on opening membership negotiations with Ukraine that Orban had threated to block.

Orban ended up allowing the EU to approve the start of talks with Kyiv. 

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A formal decision for the legislature to mount its lawsuit falls to European Parliament speaker Roberta Metsola, who has not yet announced such a move. She generally follows the recommendations of the respective committees.

The deadline for such legal action to be launched has been set for March 25.

The commission said its decision to unfreeze the funds was because Budapest was moving towards restoring the independence of Hungarian judges – addressing one of a list of issues Brussels had raised as instances of democratic backsliding in Hungary.

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But the commission's decision unleashed a torrent of criticism in the European Parliament, where lawmakers argued that Brussels had caved in to Orban's "blackmail."

In January, the parliament expressed concern over a perceived continued lack of judicial independence in Hungary and opened the door to taking legal action.

Lawmakers asserted that, even with its recent reforms, Hungary was still an outlier when it came to applying EU democratic standards on judicial independence and stressed that rule of law in Hungary had been deteriorating for years under Orban's government.

Brussels still has another 21 billion euros of EU funds earmarked for Hungary frozen until other issues – including corruption and restricting the rights of the LGBTQ community – are addressed.

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Comments (3)

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Mark Rockford
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Notice how the comments of pro-Orban people here sound exactly like those of Pro-Trump people. “Only he can save us from those dangerous immigrants!” Is it a coincidence? Doubtful.

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John
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What interesting to me is that orban, putinrump, rico and other putin aligned MRGA like MTG or Gaetz often reach out to our media with the same issue and same phasing even as putins ....sometimes before his words have been publicized. It's like they already have the script.

How they figure anyone will buy putin's lies is beyond me. He's just another ridiculously wealthy, thug mafia boss who steals at will and orders the execution of those who oppose him.

At least the EU's charter has its "Article 7" clauses and net transfer payments to somewhat sideline putin buddy Orban and FICO when they work against EU interests. No one can argue that what putin regime plans for former EU nations once oppressed under the USSR is good for them. They are the biggest GDP % contributors to Ukraine. They know whats at stake.

The USA must decisively deactivate the indicted insurrectionist candidate running for president. He lavishes praise on a putin's whose nation ranks 117 positions worse on International Corruption scales. Is that the direction Americans want to take their country? He has no reverence for law (4091 lawsuits and has even pardoned crony fraudsters in the 'Build the Wall' scheme). Is that who Americans think will apply fair laws? He states he wants dictator powers and threatens his opponents for merely speaking the truth. Is that who Americans think will protect their freedoms?

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Pavel
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Orban is great leader. So sad EU is stupid and not listen.

Sasha
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@Pavel, instead I'm Rocco Siffredi

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S Wolfskin
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@Pavel, that the issue Orban and a few others are stopping EUs population replacement goal

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S Wolfskin
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@Pavel, trust me its not about his pro-Russian stance,he builds the biggest fence to stop the flow of these mid-eastern/afro rapists and the EU has been in a row w Orban for a while now.

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