The promises of Victor Orben’s government last month were not enough to prevent the loss of European money. To protect the EU budget at risk from systemic irregularities in procurement procedures, inadequate investigations into conflicts of interest and in general from weakness in anti-corruption intervention in Hungary, the European Commission has proposed to the Council that Budapest suspend 65% of EU funds for three operational programs under the policy Cohesion: This is about 7.5 billion euros (from 21 billion), which is equivalent to a third of Budapest’s cohesion funds in the period 2021-2027. Cohesion funds are used to reduce the economic and social gap between the various European regions, and thus have a significant impact on Hungarian economic development.
The Council (Member States) will have to decide whether to actually freeze the funds, which will vote by a qualified majority, within one month of the Commission’s proposal. However, in exceptional circumstances, the period may be extended up to a maximum of two additional months for the analysis of the file. Since the Hungarian government is committed to introducing some changes to its legal system, there will be an extension. EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn explained that despite the measures proposed by Hungary to address the shortcomings, the EU Commission recommends that the funds be suspended because at this point there is still a risk to the budget, so we cannot conclude that the EU budget is sufficiently protected.
In recent months there has been an intense dialogue between the Commission and the Hungarian authoritiesWhich prompted Budapest to propose a series of corrective measures to address the concerns identified by the community executive when the process was officially launched on April 27 this year. According to Brussels, given the appropriate measures, it is necessary to be able to conclude that they will put an end to violations of the principles of the rule of law. Hungary proposed 17 corrective measures, including the creation of an independent integrity body with broad powers, an anti-corruption task force, procurement reform and amendment of the Criminal Code to allow judicial scrutiny of prosecutors’ decisions, and pledged to inform the commission of the following: Implement them by November 19. The Hungarian government said it hoped to end the dispute with the European Union by November. We defend the values of the rule of law and protect the common European budget. Hungarian authorities are invited to respond with concrete corrective measures, EU Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni wrote on Twitter.
The Board of Commissioners met on Sunday morning and unanimously approved the proposal. The decision comes just days after the EU Parliament’s report, last September 15, identified Hungary’s Viktor Orben as a hybrid system of electoral authoritarianism, and denounced the Hungarian government’s deliberate and systematic efforts against EU values. There is no connection between the two. Indeed, the Commission’s proposal applies for the first time to a rule of law conditionality mechanism that entered into force on 1 January 2021 but only became effective in the spring after the European Court of Justice expressed its support for the instrument. .
The Commission commenced the procedure on 27 April by sending written notification to Hungary and Poland. UNHCR has not yet given the green light to Hungary’s national resettlement program due to irregularities regarding respect for the rule of law in the management of funds. If it doesn’t get the green light by the end of the year, Budapest will lose the next generation of EU money. Commissioner Hahn clarified that if the council votes in favor of the commission’s proposal, Hungary will also see a portion of the cohesion funds frozen and this is the amount that Hungary has requested through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. However, Budapest has pledged to implement some required corrective measures with the roadmap agreed with Brussels which it will have to respect if it does not want to lose money. The voting question remains in the Board. An eligible majority requires at least 15 member states representing 65% of the EU population and for a restricted minority we need at least 4 EU states representing 35% of the population. The open game. For the sympathy shown by Georgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini towards Orbn. Because Poland could end up under the procedure. Because there are many small countries that are strict in the rule of law like Romania. The point at which the Commission will insist that European citizens’ money is at risk.
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