28th May 2023


Hungary's EU funds and corruption in focus This WEEK

  • EU Budget commissioner Johannes Hahn (r) meeting Hungary's justice minister Judit Varga previously in Brussels (Photo: European Commission)
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EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn is set to travel to Budapest on Tuesday (2 May) as negotiations to unlock billions of EU funds, held up because of concerns over judicial independence, made some progress last week.

Hahn is making a visit to the country as part of his tour of the EU-27.

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However, Hungary is an especially important stop as the prime minister Viktor Orbán's government is expected to submit key judicial reforms to parliament as part of its efforts to unblock the EU funds.

"We have the green light from Brussels," justice minister Judit Varga said on her official Facebook page last Thursday.

Varga was in Brussels earlier in the week and said she has reached a technical agreement with justice commissioner Didier Reynders — to which the EU Commission still needs to give its political blessing.

The commission has suspended part of Hungary's cohesion funds, and held up its Covid-19 recovery fund, over concerns related to the independence of judges and the country's failure to comply with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on issues including LGBTQ rights, and academic freedom.

The cohesions funds are worth €6.3bn, and the recovery funds allocated would mean €5.8bn — if Hungary fulfils 27 "super milestones" focusing on rule of law, corruption and judicial independence.

Hungary needs the EU funds as its economy is stagnating and inflation running above 25 percent.

EU commission vice-president Vera Jourova is also expected to set forward plans on a sanctions framework targeting corruption.

On Thursday (4 May), the EU's foreign ministers are set to meet on development issues.

They are also set to discuss with EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell the latest developments in Ukraine and Sudan.

EU social ministers and health ministers are set to meet in Stockholm for informal gatherings during the week.

The EU Commission is set to lay out its plans on how to support ammunition production in the bloc, in light of the war in Ukraine.

EU Parliament parties urge 'no money for Orbán's Hungary'

The Christian Democrat, Social Democrat, liberal and green groups, plus the smaller Left group, warned that the latest legislative developments in Hungary will further deteriorate the rule of law, fundamental rights and democracy.

Russia sanctions and EU elections on top This WEEK

The parliament's constitutional affairs committee is set to vote on a draft proposal on the number of seats in the European Parliament, and their distribution among EU countries, ahead of the 2024 elections.

Keeping China at arm's length is in focus This WEEK

The G7 aims to send a signal to China by announcing a joint effort to counter "economic coercion," with the EU hoping to avoid becoming a "vassal" in a US-China clash, as French president Emmanuel Macron said recently.

Visions of war and peace in Europe This WEEK

Russian president Vladimir Putin will cheer on a mini war-parade in Moscow on Tuesday, as German chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks of peace in Europe in Strasbourg.


How the EU's money for waste went to waste in Lebanon

The EU led support for the waste management crisis in Lebanon, spending around €89m between 2004-2017, with at least €30m spent on 16 solid-waste management facilities. However, it failed to deliver.

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