The EU Commission is dissatisfied with the reform efforts in Hungary and therefore wants to freeze up to 7.5 billion euros in subsidies for the next five years. The government of authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had until last Saturday to present progress in the fight against corruption to the Brussels authorities. The commission had with Budapest 17 reforms agreedto avert the withholding of funds. But important measures were not implemented properly; others lacked information, the commission said. On Wednesday next week, the authority is due to pass its assessment – and will probably recommend there that funding should actually be cut, as insiders say.
The decision will then be made by the EU finance ministers a week later. To freeze the money, a so-called qualified majority is required, which roughly corresponds to a two-thirds threshold. Reaching that could be difficult. Ministers could also lower the fine. background is the new rule of law mechanism. This allows the Commission to withhold funding if deficiencies in the rule of law and the fight against corruption endanger their proper use. In April, the authority opened the first procedure – against Hungary.
in the September threatened Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn to freeze 7.5 billion euros if Orbán does not implement 17 reforms by mid-November that improve the fight against corruption and nepotism. Last week, shortly before the deadline, EU diplomats and MEPs independently warned that the Commission was apparently planning to certify Orbán’s fulfillment of the promises – although critics see many shortcomings. This fear does not appear to be true.
Hungary also has to show reforms for Corona aid
There is also another multi-billion dollar conflict. Hungary is the only EU country that has not yet agreed with the Commission Reform and investment plan agreed for the Corona aid pot, it’s about 5.8 billion euros in grants until the end of 2026 that do not have to be repaid. The Commission demands that this plan also includes anti-corruption measures and also judicial reforms. Milestones should be set here: New tranches will only be transferred if Hungary achieves these interim goals.
If agreement on the reform and investment plan is not reached by the end of the year, 70 percent of the grants will be forfeited. But apparently the Commission will announce an agreement on the plan, at the same time as the negative ruling on the rule of law mechanism. Orbán will then know which milestones he needs to achieve in the judiciary and in the fight against corruption in order to receive the grants. Should Brussels freeze billions because of the rule of law mechanism, such advances could also help to free them again. Without progress, however, there would be no money.