Yesterday morning, the European Commission gave the Hungarian government until November 19 to avoid a freeze on a third of its EU funds. The Hungarian government has been in negotiations with the European Commission for months.
Yesterday's decision confirmed that the conditionality procedures have been completed. The procedure started in April, followed by an exchange of letters in June when the European Commission responded to the Hungarian government's first letter of reply asking further questions and for clarifications. The Hungarian government sent its reply on August 20, and the European Commission has until September 22 to reply.
Minister of Regional Development Tibor Navracsics told a press conference yesterday afternoon that the government has no intention of not honoring its commitments. The government considers Sunday’s decision by the European Commission as a significant step forward, as it opens the way for the conclusion of negotiations on the reconstruction fund and cohesion funds.
As the minister said, the decision concludes the negotiations. This means that no further negotiations are necessary to reach a conclusion, and no further demands can be made in the conditionality procedure. This also implies that if Hungary meets the conditionality requirements and its own commitments, the Council’s sanctions will not be adopted.
The conditionality procedure itself implied that the European Commission would make such a recommendation to the Council that if the Hungarian government does not comply with the conditions, financial sanctions would be imposed. But, as Hungary will live up to its commitments, this scenario is no longer feasible.
Tibor Navracsics said that the government had already started to implement the commitments at the end of August in order to ensure that cooperation with the European Commission runs as smoothly as possible and that the conditionality procedure can be formally closed as soon as possible.
The first two legislative packages on this issue are expected on September 19 and September 23, the minister said. According to Navracsics, the government considers that today's decision of the committee is a step forward and we have now entered the compliance phase. The Commission will then monitor the Hungarian government's compliance with its commitments and may even withdraw its proposal for sanctions on November 19.
In fact, Hungary has never been this close to signing the documents on cohesion and reconstruction funds. It’s now only a matter of a few weeks.