The European Commission has recently made a new statement on the threatened freezing of EU funds for Hungary. Reuters and Bloomberg reported that now 22 billion euros could be withheld, up from 6.3 billion euros. The Brussels body later corrected this in a comment for the Hungarian news site Index.
Reuters reported last week that “the European Commission said on Thursday it would hold back all 22 billion euros of EU cohesion funds for Hungary until its government meets conditions related to judiciary independence, academic freedoms, LGBTQI rights, and the asylum system”. Bloomberg published a similar interpretation of the Commission’s statement.
“The European Commission considers that the horizontal enabling condition on the Charter of Fundamental Rights is not yet fulfilled. This means that the European Commission cannot reimburse expenditures. We will keep working with Hungarian authorities to overcome this situation,” Elisa Ferreira, EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms said.
Stefan De Keersmaecker, a spokesman for the European Commission, wrote to the Hungarian news portal Index.hu that misleading articles had appeared about the European Commission’s announcement.
The spokesman stressed that there is no talk of the Brussels body withholding or freezing 22 billion euros in funds.
He confirmed that the Commission has indeed reached an agreement with Hungary on the funds: the programs have been approved and can therefore start to be implemented and the aforementioned advance payments can be made.
Stefan De Keersmaecker pointed out that the conditions of the conditionality procedure (i.e. the rule of law mechanism) have to be met. The issue of horizontal eligibility criteria is a separate issue, and Commissioner Elisa Ferreira’s speech referred to this area.
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