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France to push for rights sanctions in EU recovery plan - minister to FT

FILE PHOTO: French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune, wearing a protective face mask, leaves following the last weekly cabinet meeting before summer vacation break, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

(Reuters) - France will push for financial sanctions under the EU's 750 billion euro (675 billion pounds) coronavirus recovery fund against states that undermine fundamental human rights, its junior European affairs minister told the Financial Times newspaper

“(We can’t tell) French, Polish, Hungarian and European citizens that (we) can have financial solidarity in Europe and not care how the basic rules of democracy, free media, and equal rights are respected,” Clement Beaune said in an interview published late on Sunday.

The European Union is struggling to respond to what many in western Europe see as creeping authoritarianism on its eastern flank.

The European Commission, EU lawmakers and activists have said freedoms are notably under threat in Poland and Hungary.

Beaune told the newspaper that the EU must be tougher on breaches by those countries.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet