Justice Minister hails "constructive talks" with EC

The justice minister said it is crucial that Hungary’s partners get a better understanding of the country’s stance on the rule-of-law procedures, the war in Ukraine and the energy sanctions imposed on Russia.

Justice Minister Judit Varga said Hungary had conducted talks with the European Commission aimed at boosting the transparency of public procurements “in a constructive spirit” over the summer. The justice minister said European partners have recognised this. She said it is also crucial that Hungary’s partners get a better understanding of the country’s stance on the rule-of-law procedures, the war in Ukraine and the energy sanctions imposed on Russia.

Following talks with French President Emmanuel Macron’s Europe advisor and Laurence Boone, France’s state secretary for European affairs, Minister Varga told MTI that Hungary had put forward several proposals in its response letter to the European Commission late last month, and was in agreement with its negotiating partners at the talks in Brussels that the transparent utilisation of EU funds was as much in the interest of EU citizens as it was in that of Hungarian taxpayers. “It is a shared interest for which the Hungarian government has been able to provide far-reaching guarantees,” the minister said. “We have done everything the EU has asked, so we await the positive evaluation,” she added. Varga praised the “constructive, positive and solution-oriented tone” of the talks between the EC and Hungary.

“We’re working to maintain this positive mood and conduct with the European Commission, which right now is part of the solution,” she said. “It’s good if the powerful European countries keeping up with the talks between the European Commission and Hungary know all this.” Concerning Hungary’s proposals, the minister noted that Hungary will reduce the share of public procurement procedures with a single bidder to below 15%, ensure legal remedy against the prosecutor’s decisions in corruption cases, set up an authority to oversee and guarantee the regularity of public procurements at the highest level and develop performance measurement systems that will also assess the cost-effectiveness of public procurements.

Minister Varga’s talks in Paris also touched on the EU’s sanctions imposed on Russia. She said the war and associated sanctions had caused Europe’s economic hardships such as inflation, sky-high food and energy prices, and unstable energy supplies, adding that Hungary’s standpoint on energy-related sanctions was based on facts on the ground rather than being ideologically motivated. “New energy sanctions would prove fatal for central Europe for historical, geographical and physical reasons, while Europe’s interests wouldn’t be served either,” she said. The emphasis should be on working for peace instead of enhancing “wartime sanctions”, she said, adding that it should be recognised that sanctions “are more damaging to the side that enforces them than to their target”. Varga said the French were “very pragmatic”. “The notion of the European community projected by President Emmanuel Macron is crucial for the future of Europe,” she said, noting points of commonality in Hungarian and French positions.

Minister Varga travelled on to Madrid to discuss the upcoming Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian EU presidency. Spain takes over the presidency in July next year before handing it over to Belgium in December. In the second half of 2024, Hungary will take over. She said the Hungarian presidency would play a decisive role in the establishment of a new European Commission and Council after the European Parliament elections. “Hungary always backs European solutions that do not ignore people’s interests,” she said.

Photo credit: Facebook/Varga Judit