European finances: Brussels “under control” by a nationalist leader

The green light, due to be announced later in the afternoon according to sources close to the matter, has already sparked strong reactions in the European Parliament, where elected officials are worried about the prospect of “taking control” of Brussels from the nationalist leader. .

The Commission, for its part, attaches potential obstacles to reforms undertaken by Budapest to respect a series of conditions aimed at improving the independence of the Hungarian judicial system.

The amount involved represents less than half of the funds frozen by the EU for alleged legal violations against Hungary.

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“As we speak, the commission is doing the final stages of the assessment so that a decision can be taken. I cannot say now what the decision will be,” the vice-chairman of the commission said cautiously on Tuesday. The Commissioner responsible for Values ​​and Transparency, Vera Jourova, gave an interview during a press conference in Strasbourg.

Viktor Orbán threatened to block key decisions for Ukraine on the agenda of Thursday and Friday’s European summit: the start of EU accession negotiations and 50 billion euros of European aid – in the form of grants and loans – to support the country.

The Hungarian nationalist, the only EU leader to maintain close ties with the Kremlin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is calling for a “strategic debate” between 27 on the future of relations with Kiev.

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“European Values”

In the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, head of the main political group EPP (Right), said he “considers the Commission supports its decision on the facts” and stressed that the reforms “must be translated into changes”. above ground.

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“We oppose the release of any European funds to Hungary, while there is no guarantee of a lasting return to democracy in the country,” declared Stéphane Séjourné, president of the Renew Europe group (centrists and liberals).

“One man cannot hold the future of the EU, Ukraine and Moldova hostage,” the French MEP added.

“Caving in to the pro-Kremlin agenda and Orbán’s threat is to compromise European values ​​and the security of the EU and Ukraine,” Dutch MP Dinek Stryk (Greens) ruled against the “serious error”.

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In total, some 21.7 billion euros of cohesion funds planned for Hungary in the period 2021-2027 were suspended by the EU in December 2022, pending the completion of a certain number of reforms by Budapest.

In line with Brussels’ demands on the judiciary, Hungary took measures that came into effect in June, notably restoring the power and independence of the National Judicial Council, modifying the function of the Supreme Court, limiting the government’s ability to appeal to the Constitutional Court to challenge court rulings.

The last legislative amendment expected by Brussels to refer to European justice by Hungarian courts was voted on Tuesday evening, according to the results of a parliamentary vote consulted by AFP, confirming information from the Nepsava newspaper.

Of the roughly 10 billion euros to be released by the EU, 500 million euros may initially be available “in the near future,” a European source said.

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However, conditions for awarding 11.7 billion euros in public contracts, the fight against conflicts of interest, but progress on academic freedom, the rights of LGBT+ persons and respect for the law remain pending.

The European Union, in a separate procedure, suspended the progress of the Hungarian rescue plan totaling 10.4 billion euros (6.5 billion in grants and 3.9 billion in loans) on the basis of the rule of law.

However, Hungary was recently authorized to receive an advance payment of 900 million euros, which can be withdrawn after a certain period of time if the amounts paid by the EU are not eventually verified.

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