Hungary to ignore Brussels diktats and start spending EU funds without VDLs approval

Hungary Foreign Minister says EU is ‘slow’

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The European Commission is stalling on a decision whether to support Budapest’s spending plans for the EU’s coronavirus recovery fund cash. Eurocrats are concerned the country is flouting the bloc’s rule of law and values and is looking at ways to potentially withhold the money. But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insisted he would proceed on his own if Brussels doesn’t release the money.

He said: “This money is ours.

“There is not much debate about this, they can delay it, but they can not give it.”

Mr Orban insisted that his government would start implementing its spending plans and then use EU cash to refinance if and when it arrives.

He added: “If not, we will pay this out of the Hungarian budget.

Brussels is currently “seeking clarifications” from Budapest over its spending plans.

This means Hungary is amongst 11 national governments still awaiting sign off from the Commission.

Eurocrats will pause their efforts to agree to the recovery plans for their six-week summer break.

The proposals outline the projects and reforms each country has committed to in exchange for their share of the EU’s £684 billion recovery fund.

The cash will be distributed to pandemic-stricken regions and industries, in the form of low-cost loans and non-repayable grants, in the hope of kickstarting the coronavirus-ravaged European economy.

Eleven member states are still waiting for approval for their recovery plans, and are being forced to wait until after the summer holidays.

Speaking about the delays, Mr Orban said: “The most important feature of the recovery programme is that it is fast, so that we in the European Union have set up these resources at an unusually fast pace, as soon as possible.

“To delay – now I see that the European Union will be asking for a two-month postponement to continue the negotiations – is questioning the very meaning of the recovery fund.”

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Pressure has been building on Brussels to withhold funds from Hungary, especially from members of the European Parliament.

Earlier this month a group of MEPs said Mr Orban was not a “reliable steward” of EU funds in a report they commissioned.

It was claimed that Budapest has “already egregiously violated basic rule of law principles” as set out in the EU’s new conditionality mechanism.

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Member states have agreed to a system under which EU funds are linked to good behaviour, but the rules are interpreted different by each nation.

The report said the Hungarian government “cannot be a reliable steward of EU funds until these problems are corrected”

The authors added: “The Commission should therefore immediately trigger the conditionality regulation with regards to Hungary.”

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