Brussels wants to cut 70% of Hungary’s EU funding

The European Commission could reduce Hungary’s entitlement to EU funding by as much as 70% if it does not approve the country’s latest submitted plans to tackle EU concerns

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Thomas Brooke
European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn delivers his speech Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 during a debate on the 2022 General budget of the European Union at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Ronald Wittek, Pool Photo via AP)

EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn has proposed that the Commission cut up to 70 percent of Hungary’s EU funding if the government refuses to introduce acceptable measures to appease Brussels’ concerns over democratic standards, corruption, migration, and LGBTQ rights.

In a July document published by the EU Commission, Hahn wrote in a note to other commissioners that a “70 percent suspension of commitment” from the current EU budget would be a proportionate response by Brussels should significant changes not materialize after talks between the commission and Viktor Orbán’s administration.

In his note, Hahn cites “systemic irregularities, deficiencies and weaknesses in public procurement procedures; a high rate of single bidding procedures, and a low-intensity of competition” as areas of concern for the commission, in addition to a muted response by the Hungarian government regarding the “detection, prevention, and correction of conflicts of interest,” as well as “limitations to effective investigation and prosecution of alleged criminal activity.”

Furthermore, Hahn claimed the response by the Hungarian government to EU concerns regarding judicial independence in the country had been insufficient, and Hungary had “not submitted substantiated information regarding the concerns identified.”

Hungary has since submitted further proposals outlining how it intends to appease Brussels’ concerns through a “range of remedial measures” submitted on Aug. 21. Its government must now wait until Sept. 21 for the Commission to decide whether it accepts the plans.

Hungary’s Justice Minister Judit Varga has been in Brussels to hold talks with EU officials on the matter since last week, posting an update on Monday in which she said, “We believe in dialogue based on mutual respect.” She vowed to continue working “to ensure that Hungarian people can access the resources they deserve.”

Hungary, under the proposed plans would implement a range of measures including the establishment of an anti-corruption authority tasked with overseeing the allocation of EU funding.

Such an authority would aim to lower the irregularities in EU spending cited by the bloc’s anti-fraud unit Olaf, which reported irregularities in almost 4 percent of the country’s spending of EU funds in 2015-2019.

Despite EU concerns over the country’s governance, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has vowed to continue its crackdown on the issue of migration; he also accused the European Union of not acknowledging or appreciating the fact that Hungary is manning the bloc’s external border, including its previously porous southern border with Serbia.

The prime minister posted on his social media channels on Tuesday: “No matter how big the obstacles are, we must not give up our great goal of making Hungary the safest country in Europe.”

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