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“The EC’s decision opens up the way to quickly conclude negotiations on EU funds”

HARANGOZÓ ÉVA
2022.09.19. 22:38
“The EC’s decision opens up the way to quickly conclude negotiations on EU funds”

“The European Commission’s announcement this afternoon confirmed that the conditionality procedure negotiations have concluded,”

– stated Tibor Navracsics this afternoon at his press conference. The Hungarian Minister for Regional Development and EU funds is responsible for the EU funds negotiations. He explained that because of the aforementioned measures,

no additional expectations can be set going forward.

He added that they will not lose any funds because Hungary will fulfill all its commitments and, as he said:

“The government did not make commitments just to please the Commission.”

According to him, the government has “no intention at all of not fulfilling its commitments made.” Thus, the Council’s sanctions decision will not be decided upon now since the contents of Sunday’s sanctions package is secondary. In connection with this, the European Commission recommended that a portion of EU funds designated for Hungary be suspended due to concerns over the mismanagement of funds.

Tibor Navracsics emphasized that of the 17 commitments made, the establishment of the Integrity Authority – an institution that will monitor public procurement of EU funds – is one of the most important. He explained that this will be an independent authority, its leader will be chosen through an open tender process. He added that the legislation regarding this institution will be submitted to the National Assembly next Friday and it will start operating in November. So far it is known that the authority will be intervening in cases where they suspect the following: relevant players did not take the necessary steps to prevent, detect and correct fraud, conflicts of interest, corruption and other violations or irregularities that adversely impact the implementation of EU funds. In addition, the authority’s independence will be ensured by comprehensive guarantees. Its president will be appointed by the President of Hungary on the basis of an open tender and proposal by the head of the State Audit Office of Hungary.

The Minster also revealed that the other important commitment was the creation of an Anti-Corruption Working Group.

“Hungary is providing an even stronger guarantee that this new unit is now built within the government structure, but linked to a new integrity authority,”

– highlighted Tibor Navracsics.

Aside from the Integrity Authority and Anti-Corruption Working Group, Hungary's most significant commitments include the strengthening of anti-corruption systems. In accordance with this, the government will undertake expanding the personal scope and content of asset declarations and strengthening its control system. These undertakings include developing the Electronic Public Procurement System to increase transparency as well as strengthening cooperation with OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office). The Hungarian government began implementing its commitments at the end of August already. This is being done in close cooperation with the European Commission and various international organizations (European Council, OECD). Two new regulation proposals are expected to be submitted on September 19 and 23. The September 19 regulations package will contain amendments to the law relating to public interest trust foundations performing public duties and cooperation with OLAF. The September 23 legislation is still being prepared. In answer to Magyar Nemzet’s question, the Minister explained that the government will complete the necessary administrative tasks by the end of the year and afterwards, it is up to the EU when the funds will arrive.

Fathers and axes

Ernst Jünger’s parable came to mind in connection with the honors bestowed upon Viktor Orbán by the Serbian State.

In any case, Hungary has not actually lost any EU funds yet – and based on the Commission’s decision today, this is no longer a threat. If the Hungarian government fulfills its commitments, the conditionality procedure will be concluded before the end of the year. The EC’s decision opens up the way to quickly conclude negotiations on EU funds. If things go according to plan, they will be concluded by the end of the year thus Hungary could enter 2023 without a loss of funds.

Photo: Tibor Navracsics (Photo: Kurucz Árpád)

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