Hungary has until Nov. 19 to make the legal changes required by the European Commission in order to release 65 percent of a total €7.5 billion in EU funding to the country, said Minister for Regional Development and EU Funding Tibor Navracsics on Sunday.
Earlier on Sunday, EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn said that while in its decision the EU commission proposed “severe financial penalties” for Hungary, should the Hungarian government implement the changes required by the commission, the sanctions can be avoided.
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According to Navracsics, the European Commission’s decision on Sunday concluded the months-long intensive negotiations of the conditionality procedure, so no further expectations can be placed on Hungary. However, the Hungarian official said that negotiations will continue on the implementation, mentioning that he will next meet with the EU commissioner responsible for the budget, Johannes Hahn, on Wednesday.
Navracsics said the Hungarian government will submit the necessary amendments to the law to parliament this coming Monday and Friday.
The cabinet pledged the establishment of an integrity authority as one of the 17 most important undertakings, which controls the public procurement procedures of projects implemented with EU funds and can intervene in cases of fraud, conflicts of interest, or irregularities. Its leader will be selected through an open tender by independent experts, Navracsics said, adding that the authority can start operating in the second half of November.
The Hungarian side also undertook to create an anti-corruption working group, which will not be part of the government but will be linked to the integrity authority. The leadership of the integrity authority will consist of an equal number of members from the governmental and non-governmental spheres.
Hungary is currently under a rule of conditionality procedure in the European Union, which cites corruption and the misuse of some EU funds as the reason for threatening to withhold funding.
Hungary has argued that it is being targeted for its stance on migration, traditional values, and multiculturalism, and that “rule of law” is just a pretext to remove Hungary’s conservative government. Many of Brussels’ left-liberal establishment parties have championed the cause of cutting funding to Hungary, including many connected to billionaire oligarch George Soros, who argued in the past that the EU should make an example out of Hungary and Poland by cutting EU funding to both nations.
Navracsics said that Hungary will comply on all points agreed upon with the European Commission.
“The Hungarian government has no intention of not fulfilling the commitments it made during the procedure,” he said.