Europe

Brussels to decide if EU funds for Hungary should be blocked

The European Commission will decide on Wednesday whether Hungary’s new anti-corruption measures are sufficient to escape the freezing of European funds.

This follows a recommendation by the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament in September to vote against the allocation of €7.5 billion in cohesion funds, due to “systemic irregularities” observed in public procurement in Hungary.

Budapest is confident that EU states, who are responsible for the final decision, will not withhold the funds through the rule of law mechanism.

Brussels has previously urged members not to give in to pressure from Hungary. Orban’s government has blocked crucial EU decisions in recent months, such as an €18 billion assistance package to Ukraine and an agreement on the overall minimum tax rate.

But according to József Péter Martin, the head of Transparency International Hungary, Budapest has taken Brussel’s recommendations seriously.

“In our opinion, this is the only meaningful anti-corruption package of the last 12 years, but obviously one cannot expect that it would completely dismantle Orbán’s System of National Cooperation overnight,” he said.

According to MEPs who voted on the matter on November 24, the measures adopted by Hungary are insufficient to address the existing systemic risk for the EU’s financial interests.

A €5.8 billion post-COVID recovery plan was also blocked due to rule of law concerns. If the plan does not get the green light before the end of 2022, 70% of the funds will be lost.

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