Hungary fails to meet conditions to reverse European Commission budget suspension

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The European Commission says the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, shown here, has failed to meet key milestones required to undo a budget suspension that was proposed in September. Photo by Zoltan Fischer/EPA-EFE

Dec. 2 (UPI) — The European Commission has decided to maintain its proposed 65% suspension of budget commitments for three projects in Hungary.

The decision comes after the commission determined that Hungary had failed to meet milestones intended to fight corruption and maintain the independence of the judiciary. The suspension accounts for approximately $7.5 billion in funds.

Human rights organizations have accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government of targeting independent media, discriminating against Hungary’s Roma minority and targeting LGBTQ citizens.

“While a number of reforms have been undertaken or are underway, Hungary failed to adequately implement central aspects of the necessary 17 remedial measures agreed under the general conditionality mechanism by the deadline of 19 November,” read a statement from the commission on Wednesday.

The commission pointed out that it has approved a Recovery and Resilience plan for Hungary, provided they are able to meet 27 “super milestones,” in accordance with the commission’s demands.

“They are also expected to improve the efficiency and resilience of the economy by reinforcing the fight against corruption, promoting competitive public procurements and strengthening the independence of the judiciary,” the commission said.

In September the commission announced the proposal to suspend $7.5 billion in funds in response to questions about the impact of corruption on European Union funds.

“Today’s decision is a clear demonstration of the commission’s resolve to protect the EU budget, and to use all tolls at our disposal to ensure this important objective,” Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a statement on Sept. 19.

Some of the milestones include the creation of an Integrity Authority and Anti-Corruption Task Force, the strengthening of rules against conflicts of interest, increased transparency in public procurement, and increased audit and control requirements.

According to Wednesday’s statement, the 27 “super milestones” must be implemented before any payment under the Recovery and Resilience plan can be made.

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