Government submits second package of bills related to EU’s conditionality procedure

The package submitted Friday, posted on the website of parliament, contains amendments to legislation regarding oversight of the use of EU funding.

The Hungarian government has submitted a second package of bills to lawmakers related to the European Union’s conditionality procedure.

According to MTI, government officials had said earlier that proposed changes to legislation would be submitted to parliament on Monday and Friday, in line with commitments made to the European Commission during talks to address concerns over the rule of law and their potential impact on the EU budget.

The first package of bills was tabled on Monday. xc The proposed legislation would establish an Integrity Authority and an Anti-Corruption Task Force with the aim of reaching an agreement with the EC. The Integrity Authority would be a state administrative body, autonomous of the government and other state organisations, headed by a chairman and two deputies, appointed by Hungary’s president on the recommendation of the head of the State Audit Office, for a period of six years. Appointees would not be allowed to serve a second term. The Integrity Authority’s board would be required to report on the body’s activities once a year to lawmakers and submit the report to the EC, too.

The Integrity Authority would be required to inform other authorities, such as the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) or the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), if it suspects graft, conflict of interest, corruption or other legal violations or irregularities. The Anti-Corruption Task Force, whose members would include representatives of anti-corruption NGOs as well as of state institutions, would work alongside the Integrity Authority, undertaking analyses, making recommendations, issuing opinions and drafting decisions.

The Anti-Corruption Task Force would be headed by the chairman of the Integrity Authority, but its deputy would be picked by the body’s NGO members. Other people could be invited to participate in the Anti-Corruption Task Force on a permanent or ad hoc basis. The proposed legislation would set up a three-member committee to support independent, objective decisions on the selection of people involved with the operation of the Integrity Authority and the Anti-Corruption Task Force. The proposed legislation would modify rules on requests for information of public interest. It would also institutionalise and establish the rules for operation of an Internal Oversight and Integrity Directorate operating within the portfolio of the minister in charge of use of EU funding. The head of the directorate would be appointed by the prime minister on the recommendation of the minister in charge of use of EU funding for a period of four years. The Internal Oversight and Integrity Directorate would report on its activities once a year to the Integrity Authority.

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