Hungarian government sends response the EC's questions on Rule of Law

June 28. 2022. – 08:13 AM

updated

The deadline expired yesterday and the Hungarian government has sent its response to the European Commission's letter of conditionality on the Rule of Law. Judit Varga, Minister of Justice writes on her Facebook page: "Loyal cooperation and constructive dialogue based on mutual respect have always been important for the government". She adds that the Government responded to all the questions of the European Commission "fully and professionally", "despite the fact that on certain points we found the concerns of Brussels unfounded".

“We remain committed to straightforward and quality professional dialogue. We are ready to negotiate and reach an agreement!” – the Justice Minister added.

The European Commission sent a formal note on the Rule of Law Mechanism to Hungary in April. This set off a 6-9 month process and if it is proven that there is a direct breach of the EU's financial interests in Hungary, the country could be penalised, and the European Council may suspend or block part of the EU funding intended for Hungary.

At the time, 24.hu had obtained a letter from the European Commission detailing the main reasons why public procurement cases violate the EU budget and the rule of law. There is no reference to the so-called "family protection" /anti-gay measures in the text. According to the letter, systemic irregularities have been found in the allocation of Cohesion Funds.

They also cite an investigation by OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud office, which looked into 35 lighting projects for public areas won by the former company of István Tiborcz, the prime minister's son-in-law, where the Hungarian state ended up paying for the projects from the state budget rather than repaying the Commission. Neither Tiborcz nor Elios are named in the letter, but there is a reference to the case and the OLAF report on it is linked.

The letter also says that a narrow circle in Hungary has absorbed about a fifth of the EU money since 2010 and that serious problems have been identified when examining conflicts of interest. Concerns were also raised about public foundations, given that the management and ownership structure of these foundations is considered incompatible with EU funding.

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The translation of this article was made possible by our cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation.