As we have reported before, the European Union made the decision to withhold Poland and Hungary’s coronavirus recovery funding. Several Fidesz politicians seem to think that this is in connection with Hungary’s “Child Protection Act,” however, the EU is denying this.
Previously, Finance Minister Mihály Varga, Justice Minister Judit Varga, and Fidesz MEPs Tamás Deutsch and Enikő Győri all expressed their disagreement over the funds being withheld.
After the Hungarian parliament passed amendments to its child protection law in June, which European Union institutions said was discriminatory against the LGBTQ+ community, “the European Commission judged the Hungarian plan on a political basis,” Mihály Varga said.
Paolo Gentiloni, the EU Commissioner for Economy, said at the talks on Tuesday that the issue of discrimination in Hungarian public education was “…one of the main reasons to withhold Hungarian recovery funding.” “Hungary is entitled to that money, and we see delays as a step against the Hungarian economy,” he added.
Tamás Deutsch also said Gentiloni’s remarks were “a rude surprise,” considering the commissioner had earlier said the issue of Hungarian legislation that codifies parents’ right to take charge of their children’s sexual education “played no role” in the EC’s delay of the approval of Hungary’s RRF plan.
Judit Varga, Minister of Justice, wrote on her social media page: “They have admitted what they have been denying, that because of the LGBTQ lobby, our country cannot access the resources of the recovery fund.”
Another Fidesz MEP, Enikő Győri, had the chance to talk to Gentiloni about the topic. Beforehand, she also told MTI that the European Commission is withholding economic recovery funds from Hungary “because of educational discrimination.” She also said that the EC was “violating the law, taking discriminative sabotage action, and playing political games.”
The politician wanted an explanation, among other things, as to why the Brussels position had changed since until now they had denied that there was a link between the recovery funds and the Child Protection Act. Gentiloni replied:
“We are mostly discussing how to strengthen the anti-corruption framework, including by improving prosecutorial efforts and access to public information. We are also discussing the education sector, but the Hungarian Child Protection Law is another work in progress and is not included in the discussion of the recovery plan. As you know, it is subject to a misconduct procedure.”
(Győri also quoted him as saying at a personal meeting earlier that “recovery funds cannot be linked to issues of national competency without financial consequences”).
The Italian commissioner did not elaborate on what was being objected to in the context of the “education sector,” but he made it clear that it was not the Child Protection Law, HVG reports.
Featured image: Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for Economic Policy, holds a press conference after the Eurogroup virtual meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, February 15, 2021. Photo by Stephanie Lecocq/MTI/EPA POOL