VDL leaves MEP furious with end of year ultimatum for Orban as Hungary fights for funds

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Ursula von der Leyen has given Hungary an end-of-the-year deadline to comply with EU demands and unlock recovery funds that the Commission had withheld from Viktor Orban against his government’s alleged corruption. The EU Commission President is mulling cutting funds to Hungary by 20 percent over seven years unless Mr Orban addresses his government’s “inability, failure or unwillingness, to prevent decisions that are in breach of the applicable law”. 

Commission Vice President Vladis Dombrovskis said on Monday evening in Strasbourg: “All of the decisions need to be taken by the end of this year, otherwise this money is no longer available.

“So in a sense, we’re reaching some kind of crunch time there.” 

The EU executive’s ultimatum, however, infuriated German Green MEP Damian Boeselager who sees Mrs von der Leyen’s deadline as a way to eventually concede to Mr Orban’s tactics and dish out EU taxpayers’ money. 

Pointing out there are no clauses on deadlines in the recovery fund rules, he told Politico: “The legal basis is very shaky at best.

“It seems like the Commission is trying to find reasons to approve the Hungarian plan.

Half the members of the group will be government delegates and the others will be representatives of non-governmental organisations.

Mr Orban’s government has come under increased pressure in recent months to strike a deal with Brussels as the forint currency hit new lows and inflation keeps surging.

Mr Orban’s chief of staff said last month that Hungary will amend by the end of October several laws criticised by the Commission if an agreement on financial aid is reached with the EU executive.

Gergely Gulyas also said Hungary would create a “stricter than ever” and most transparent system for overseeing the use of EU funds and procurement contracts.

An EU source, however, told Reuters on Monday, that the EU Commission wants to see more action from Budapest on stepping up anti-corruption safeguards before Brussels agrees to unlock EU funds.

One source called Hungary’s efforts to secure funds a “charm offensive” but said there had been no “immediate breakthrough” in talks on the issue last week between EU officials and Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga.

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