Hungary confirmed Tuesday that the European Union was set to pursue legal action over reforms introduced by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that critics say move the country toward dictatorship.
According to Reuters, the EU is concerned that the new legislation "has jeopardized the independence of the central bank, forced hundreds of judges to retire early, and left the Hungarian data authority open to political interference."
EU sanctions would complicate Hungary's efforts to secure aid needed to remain solvent, the news service wrote:
Both the European Union and and International Monetary Fund have said they will refuse to extend aid to Hungary, which is struggling financially, unless the government in Budapest guarantees the independence of the central bank.
CNN reported that European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso asked Hungary in December to withdraw the bills, but Orban reportedly rejected the request.
The EU has raised the prospect of taking Hungary to the European Court of Justice, Europe's highest court, over Orban's constitutional overhaul.
Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics, interviewed on public TV, gave no indication that Budapest would offer last-minute concessions that might prevent the EU Commission action.
However, he had talked to the EU's Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding by phone about the pending legal action.
"The way I see it at the moment is that on the issues of central bank law and data protection we are close to possibly finding a solution in the near future," Navracsics reportedly said. "If the aim is to further strengthen the independence of the head of the data protection authority, I will surely not oppose that.
"As far as the general retirement age of judges and prosecutors... is concerned, I think there is a real professional debate on those issues."
According to VOA, anticipation of EU sanctions is fueling far right calls for Hungary to leave the bloc:
Officials of a Hungarian far-right political party known for its perceived anti-Semitic rhetoric and threats against Gypsies, or Roma, recently burned a European Union flag at a rally in front of the European Union offices in Budapest.
Up to 2,000 demonstrators demanded that the country withdraw from the EU during a protest of the Movement for a Better Hungary party, or Jobbik. Some wore uniforms and others waved flags of Hungary's pro-Nazi regime during World War II.