The European Commission has decided to release €920 million in funding to Hungary, multiple international news outlets have reported. The news sites reporting on the issue include Euronews, Bloomberg, and Reuters. In a recent Facebook post, Minister Of Regional Development Tibor Navracsics confirmed the press reports. In the card posted, he said: ‘The negotiations have borne fruit, the first part of the EU funds is arriving!’
It is important to note that
the release of this sum, to be transferred in two instalments, would not be tied to any condition of legislative reform,
which previously has stood in the way of Hungary receiving EU funding. However, according to Bloomberg, this decision is still not finalized, as a qualified majority of the foreign ministers of EU Member States still need to consent to it.
Meanwhile, according to Euronews, this is all part of the Union’s RePower EU plan to help Member States transition to green energy from fossil fuel,—however, as we wrote above, its distribution is not enforced—so this does not come from the around €36 billion in COVID recovery and EU cohesion funds still due to Hungary. The larger amount is tied to 27 so-called ‘super milestones’ that Hungary needs to meet as criteria in order to address supposed ‘rule of law’ concerns. Additional funds also may be available under the Repower plan, however, those are conditional.
Tensions over the withholding of funds between the Orbán administration and EU have been building up for a long time. Initially, about €7 billion of COVID recovery funds were frozen by the Union in July 2021—allegedly, for concerns over corruption, however, it ‘strangely’ coincided with the backlash for the Child Protection Act passed by the Hungarian National Assembly. Previously, PM VIktor Orbán accused the EU of engaging in ‘financial blackmail’. Meanwhile, a line-up liberal MEPs held a press conference back in May, not only trying to pressure the Commission not to release any of the funds due to Hungary, but also trying to convince the EU Council not let Hungary take the rotating presidency of the body in July of next year.
However, there has been some easing in the negotiations as well: in October, the British news outlet Financial Times reported that about €13 billion of Hungary’s EU funds have been unfrozen—however, no update about actual wire transfers happening have come since. This time, however, the funds will be received independently of the infamous ‘rule of law conditionality procedure,’ thus have a lot better chance of actually arriving in our country.
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