After years of complacency and wishful thinking, Brussels is finally trying to rein in the country’s pugnacious leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
After long indulging him, leaders in the European Union now widely consider Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary an existential threat to a bloc that holds itself up as a model of human rights and the rule of law, reports the New York Times.
Mr. Orban has spent the past decade steadily building his “illiberal state,” as he proudly calls Hungary, with the help of lavish E.U. funding. Even as his project widened fissures in the bloc, which Hungary joined in 2004, his fellow national leaders mostly looked the other way, committed to staying out of one another’s affairs.
But now Mr. Orban’s defiance and intransigence has had an important, if unintended, effect: serving as a catalyst for an often-sluggish European Union system to act to safeguard the democratic principles that are the foundation of the bloc.
Early this year, the European Court of Justice will issue a landmark decision on whether the union has the authority to make its funds to member states conditional on meeting the bloc’s core values. Doing so would allow Brussels to deny billions of euros to countries that violate those values.
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