The European Commission is ready to suspend funds of 7.5 billion euros intended for Hungary, due to corruption

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According to the private press agency from Romania, news.ro, the European Commission recommended on Sunday the suspension of funds worth 7.5 billion euros intended for Hungary, due to corruption. This would be the first case in the Union of 27 member states applying a new sanction designed to better protect the rule of law in the EU.
“It is about violations of the rule of law that compromise the use and management of EU funds. We cannot conclude that the EU budget is sufficiently protected,” said EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn, in a press release from the European Commission.
He highlighted systemic irregularities in Hungary’s public procurement laws, insufficient safeguards against conflicts of interest, deficiencies in effective prosecution and deficiencies in other anti-corruption measures.
Hahn said the Commission is recommending the suspension of around a third of the cohesion funds expected for Hungary from the bloc’s common budget for 2021-2027, totaling 1.1 trillion euros.
The €7.5 billion in question represents 5% of Hungary’s estimated GDP for 2022.
EU countries now have up to three months to decide on this proposal.
Hahn said Hungary’s latest pledge to respond to EU criticism was a significant step in the right direction, but still needed to be translated into new laws and practical action before the bloc could be appeased.
The Commission’s decision is based on an intensive dialogue with the Hungarian authorities in recent months, which led to Hungary proposing a series of remedial measures to address the concerns identified by the Commission when the process was officially launched on 27 April.
The decision follows the letter the Commission sent to Hungary, outlining the measures it intends to propose to the Council, as well as the remedial measures presented by Hungary in the letter of 22 August, supplemented by further clarifications in a letter of 13 September.
The Commission has assessed Hungary’s response in detail, looking in particular at whether the remedial measures adequately address the Commission’s initial findings.
For the measures to qualify as adequate, they should put an end to violations of the rule of law and/or the risks they create for the EU budget and the financial interests of the Union.
At this stage, the Commission proposes the following measures: A suspension of 65% of commitments for three operational programs within the cohesion policy; a prohibition to conclude legal commitments with public interest trusts for programs implemented in direct and indirect management.
The Council has one month to decide whether to adopt such measures, with a qualified majority.
Reuters, news.ro shows, documented in 2018 how Orban channels EU development funds to his friends and family, a practice that human rights organizations say has enormously enriched his circle of close friends and allowed the 59-year-old man years to stay in power.

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