EU budget: Hungary wants to avert threatened EU funding cuts

The Hungarian government has tabled a first law in parliament to avert a threatened cut in EU funds.

EU budget: Hungary wants to avert threatened EU funding cuts

The Hungarian government has tabled a first law in parliament to avert a threatened cut in EU funds. It provides for an incompatibility regulation for members of the board of trustees of public foundations and improved administrative assistance for the EU corruption investigation authority Olaf. The proposed law appeared on the website of the Hungarian Parliament on Monday evening. The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to introduce another legislative package on Friday.

After years of allegations of alleged misuse of EU funds and violations of the rule of law, the EU Commission proposed last Sunday to cut payments of around 7.5 billion euros from the EU budget to Hungary. At the same time, she had given Budapest two months to remedy the abuses and thus get out of the rule-of-law procedure with impunity.

A particularly sensitive case are the public foundations, to which the Orban government has given most of the country's universities. Their boards of trustees are almost exclusively made up of personalities loyal to Orban, including ministers and state secretaries. Even after a change of government, these people could not be replaced.

What is in the draft law?

The draft law now provides that the members of the Board of Trustees may not participate in foundation decisions that would open up conflicts of interest for them. The politicians would not have to resign from the board of trustees in the future, the Hungarian EU chief negotiator Tibor Navracsics hastened to explain on Tuesday on the TV channel ATV. "The EU Commission does not expect that," he said. Navracsics himself chairs a foundation that manages Pannon University in the western Hungarian city of Veszprem.

Furthermore, the draft law stipulates that the Hungarian tax authority NAV will provide administrative assistance to the investigators of the EU agency Olaf. Among other things, NAV is to make official premises available to Olaf colleagues for investigations in Hungary and to give them access to the databases and documents of the tax office.

approval from Germany

The German government had previously welcomed the EU Commission's proposal. It is good that the authority is using this instrument to protect the rule of law, said European Minister of State Anna Lührmann on Tuesday at the sidelines of an EU meeting in Brussels. The Greens politician did not comment on the question of whether the Hungarian pledges were sufficient to prevent misuse of EU money. "We are now examining these measures very closely."

Austria's Minister Karoline Edtstadler emphasized on Tuesday that there should be no compromises with the rule of law. At the same time, everyone should be given the chance to find their way back to the rule of law.

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