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Germany, 3 other European nations urge new mechanism to safeguard bloc's fundamental values

Germany and three other European Union nations have called for a creation of mechanism to safeguard the bloc's fundamental values if a member country is seen as sliding off, including an option to cut the EU funding for offenders.

The foreign ministers of the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Germany say in a joint letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that the bloc's executive arm "must be able to react swiftly and effectively to ensure compliance" with the EU's basic principles such as democracy, human right and the rule of law in member states.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, comes after legal changes in countries, such as Hungary, that were seen by critics as undermining democracy. Budapest made minor changes to them following EU interventions.