German FM Maas, tough stance against Romania, Hungary and Poland, urges sanctions against them

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday the European Union should cut funding and impose sanctions on members which pass laws that violate the EU principles and the rule of law, laws that oppose to an independent judiciary and freedom of the press.

Maas told German broadcaster ZDF that countries like Romania, Hungary and Poland received more EU funding than they provided, so curtailing that could provide important leverage.

There are basic core principles that all must respect,” Maas said on a ZDF program. With members that breach them, “we’ll have to investigate if that should have financial consequences,” he added.

Cutting funding “is the only language that is understood there,” he said of countries which pass laws to restrict freedom of the press, for instance.

The European Parliament’s main center-right bloc voted on Wednesday to suspend the Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban amid concerns it had violated European Union principles on the rule of law.

As for Romania and Poland, European leaders have repeatedly warned them over the breaches and the laws passed by the national parliaments that are undermining the fight against corruption and other rule of law principles.

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