Hungary will receive $10 billion of blocked European funds

The European Commission’s statement was long-awaited and may facilitate the approval of new aid to Ukraine

European Commission on Wednesday evening Announce By releasing about 10 billion in so-called “cohesion funds” to Hungary, the disbursement of which was suspended a year ago. It is money allocated to the poorest and most backward regions of the Union, and in December 2022, the European Commission decided not to allow it, accusing the Hungarian government, led by far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, of creating a political, economic and judicial system that is extremely corrupt and illiberal.

Authorization to release the funds had been long awaited, and among the most reliable newspapers dealing with European affairs, it was expected within days. The decision was announced a day before the start of the work of the European Council in Brussels, that is, the meeting of heads of state and government of the European Union, which will be held between Thursday and Friday. You will have to make a decision Whether new aid to Ukraine worth 50 billion euros will be approved, added to the European multi-year budget for the period between 2021 and 2027.

Many observers linked the possible release of European funds to Hungary with new aid to Ukraine. Hungary is actually the European country most closely linked to Russia, and has for months been blocking aid to Ukraine, which views the money as Important To avoid bankruptcy and continue defending against the Russian invasion. Hungary may have asked the Commission to release European funds in exchange for agreeing to new aid to Ukraine: but the Hungarian government and the European Commission denied any connection between the two discussions.

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Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Orban has shown a very cautious approach towards Russia. While he supported the sanctions decided by the European Union against the government of Vladimir Putin, he refused to send weapons to the Ukrainian army and welcomed the circulation of theses and ideas supportive of Russia in the internal public debate.

On Wednesday, the day Orban arrived in Brussels, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders announced that the verdict on the Hungarian government’s reforms was positive and therefore European funds could be released. “We have obtained sufficient guarantees to say that the independence of the judicial system in Hungary will be strengthened. But today’s decision does not constitute the end of the process. “We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and will respond quickly if there is any decline.”

Despite the release of these 10 billion euros of “cohesion funds”, the European Commission decided to continue not to allow the disbursement of another 10.4 billion euros owed to Hungary for the so-called recovery fund, funds approved by the European Union. The European Union to contain the economic crisis caused by the epidemic. To do this, the Commission asked the Hungarian government to respect 27 very strict conditions regarding transparency and money management, conditions that Hungary never wanted to respect.

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