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Brussels will decide whether EU funds for Hungary should be blocked

origin 1Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ©AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

The European Commission will decide on Wednesday whether Hungary’s new anti-corruption measures are enough to escape a freeze on European funds.

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

Budapest is confident that EU states, 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.

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

“In our view, this is the only significant anti-corruption package in the last 12 years, but obviously it cannot be expected to completely dismantle Orbán’s National Cooperation System overnight,” he said.

According to MEPs who voted on the issue on 24 November, the measures taken by Hungary are not sufficient to address the current systemic risk to the EU’s financial interests.

A €5.8bn post-COVID recovery plan has also been stalled due to rule of law concerns. If the plan does not get the green light by the end of 2022, 70% of the funds will be lost.