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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday said the European Union (EU) should cut funding and impose sanctions on members which pass laws that contravene core EU principles such having an independent judiciary and freedom of the press, Reuters reported.

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. 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 Orbán amid concerns it had violated EU principles on the rule of law.

Orbán has tightened controls over Hungarian public life, including the courts, the media and the economy, as well as education and now scientific research.

The EU is also at odds with Poland and Romania over legal steps that critics say undermine the rule of law and other core European values.

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