Justice Minister: EU members approve Hungary’s recovery plan

The justice minister said European Union member states “listened to Hungary’s arguments” and approved the country’s recovery plan which is expected to lead to the unblocking of recovery funding.

Justice Minister Judit Varga said European Union member states “listened to Hungary’s arguments” and approved the country’s recovery plan which is expected to lead to the unblocking of recovery funding. “We woke up to good news,” Minister Varga said in Brussels, referring to the decision made in the early hours of Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of European affairs ministers in Brussels, Minister Varga said the adoption of the Hungarian plan “exactly reflects the situation”, citing the European Commission as calling the Hungarian program “one of the best”. During the process, the Hungarian government considered “all reasonable professional proposals that were not in conflict with the democratic mandates voters had bestowed on the government”, she said, adding that the government “adopted constructive compromises” in that spirit. Hungary has fulfilled all its commitments regarding the EU’s conditionality procedure, she insisted, adding that the Hungarian government would continue to work “with the same effectiveness and in the spirit of forward-looking and constructive cooperation” to have now-suspended cohesion funds released to Hungary as soon as possible. She called it important that the other members had “understood Hungary”, and proposed that the ratio of suspended cohesion funding to Hungary should be 55% rather than 65% as the European Commission had intended. She said it was “a sign that member states have the final say” in the EU, which she called a “cooperative community with member states at the helm”.

The European Council said on Monday that EU ambassadors had positively assessed Hungary’s recovery plan which awaits the decision of EU leaders. The council also said at the same time that the Committee of Permanent Representatives has proposed suspending payment of cohesion funds to the country totalling 6.3 billion euros. If the proposal is accepted and Hungary completes 27 “milestone” reforms to reinforce the rule of law, it may access 5.8 billion euros of EU recovery funding to offset the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and finance the transition to a green and digital economy, the council’s statement said. According to the ambassadors’ evaluation, the Hungarian plan is made up of reforms and projects that would contribute to meeting the EU’s country-specific recommendations, adding that it was designed to provide a thorough and balanced response to the economic and social situation in the country. The Hungarian plan includes a thorough package of key institutional reforms aimed at meeting country-specific recommendations concerning the rule of law, which serves the protection of the bloc’s financial interests. Stepping up the fight against corruption, promoting competition in public procurement and strengthening the independence of the judiciary will also contribute to the efficiency and resilience of the economy, the statement said. Hungary will be required to fully and appropriately complete its reforms before the EU makes any payment to the country under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the statement warned.