Brussels asks to keep 13,300 million euros in funds frozen to Hungary

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Brussels asks to keep 13.3 billion euros in funds to Hungary frozen

The < strong>European Commission has not changed its mind about Hungary. The Government of Víktor Orban has taken steps in the “right direction” in recent weeks, but for the moment they are still insufficient to “dispel the risks” that are planned around the > independence of justice, which “has continued to deteriorate”, and the fight against corruption. The result of this analysis is that he proposes to keep frozen 13.3 billion euros in funds allocated to Hungary: 7.5 billion in cohesion funds for the period 2021-2027 and 5.8 billion from the Next Generation EU recovery plan. According to Brussels, the disbursement of the money will have to be paid. to remain paralyzed until Budapest complies with the committed reforms to guarantee judicial independence.

The first of the decisions affects the conditionality mechanism It was activated by Brussels due to the problems, irregularities and systemic deficiencies with the rule of law identified in Hungary. A mechanism that can be activated when the financial interests of the EU are at stake and that led to the to Ursula von der Leyen's teamIn mid-September, the government will propose freezing a third of the cohesion funds (7,500 million) assigned to the country during this budgetary framework. After weeks of tug-of-war, Orban responded to the challenge. with a package of 17 corrective measures, with a list of reforms and a precise calendar. Two months later -the time period expired-. 19 November – the conclusion from Brussels is that progress is not enough. 

“Despite the measures taken, there is still a risk for the EU budget, given that the corrective measures that still need to be met are of a structural and horizontal nature,” estimates the Commission. “While a number of reforms have been undertaken or are underway, Hungary has not adequately implemented the core aspects of the agreed 17 necessary corrective measures, as committed to,” the Commission added. ;n on elements such as the effectiveness of the newly created Integrity Authority and the procedure for judicial review of judicial decisions. As a consequence, the Community Executive proposes to maintain its proposal to freeze funds for three operational programs and not to enter into legal commitments with any public interest fund. The final decision, however, will have to be taken by the EU Ministers of Economy and Finance, by qualified majority, before December 19 >.

Hungarian Recovery Plan

The second decision refers to the recovery plan and the 5,800 million euros assigned to Hungary, the only one that remains to be approved and that has spent a year and a half in the drawer of the Community Executive for the problems with the rule of law. Finally -the deadline for its approval expires at the end of the year-, Brussels proposes to approve the plan -the final decision will also be made by the Twenty-seven- but there will be no decision. Funds will not be disbursed until the Orban government executes all the reforms it has committed to, among them, according to what the vice-president of the Commission, Valdis Domvrovskis has pointed out, 27 milestones that include guaranteeing judicial independence.

“All milestones must be met before requesting payments. There will be no funding until the milestones are properly executed,” he explained. Concretely, Orban will have It will have to meet four milestones in terms of judicial independence, which will be binding and with specific deadlines. First, the creation of a National Judicial Council made up of judges chosen by their peers who they consider “vital” to guarantee the system of checks and balances as well as the It was established as an independent supreme court, with a single and non-renewable mandate.

The list is completed with the possibility that all judges can refer preliminary rulings to the Court of Justice of the EU, something that currently it does not occur and is not compatible with European legislation, and the reinforcement of ordinary justice. “They are key and we call them super-milestones. They must be fully realized before Hungary can request a payment. There will be no partial payment if compliance is partial. If reforms are rolled back after the first payment, subsequent ones will not be carried out. out”, warned the justice commissioner, Didier Reynders .