The European Commission will propose prolonging the assessment period of Hungary’s recovery plan, in which the country has requested 7.2 billion euros in funding from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for post-pandemic reconstruction. According to the Hungarian government, the recovery plan is “being hobbled by ideologically and politically-motivated attacks.”
The European Commission is analyzing the latest responses it received from the Hungarian authorities to previous commission questions which arrived last Friday, commission spokeswoman Arianna Podesta told reporters on Monday.
“We are working constructively to conclude our assessment as fast as possible. Should our assessment require more weeks rather than days, we will propose to Hungary to agree on an extension of the two-month deadline,” the spokeswoman added.
The EC accepted the recovery plans from 16 states by the Monday deadline and asked for a prolonged assessment period in the case of Poland, Estonia, Romania, Sweden, and Finland. During this period, the member states have the opportunity to provide further information to the Commission and to amend their plans, Podesta said.
The European Commission however did not give any details on the assessment, or where it seeks changes from Hungary.
FactHungary submitted its plan on the use of RRF funds in May, after it was revealed that the country would forgo the significant HUF 3.4 billion (EUR 9.1 bn) credit line of the recovery package, and only take the grants, worth HUF 2.5 billion (EUR 6.9 bn). At the time, the government justified the decision by saying they wanted to restart the economy with the lowest possible foreign debt ratio. However, many claimed it had more to do with the strict conditions the EU is imposing on the use of the loans.
The Commission’s announcement comes on the heels of several press reports published last week that the EU executive suspended the approval of Hungary’s recovery plan because of unsatisfactory anti-graft safeguards in the country’s spending plan.
Later, Commission Vice President Vera Jourova denied these reports saying that “we are not stopping Hungary’s recovery fund – the process is ongoing.”
Justice Minister Judit Varga also denied that the European Commission had “thrown back” the recovery plan submitted by the Hungarian government, calling it “fake news,” but admitted that the Commission had made new demands since the adoption of Hungary’s highly controversial “Child Protection Law,” which many in the European Union deem discriminatory towards the LGBTQI+ community.
In response to the EC’s latest announcement, the Prime Minister’s Office said that talks between the EC and Hungary had been underway and close to completion when the commission “came up with impossible demands” after the government-sponsored child protection law, which the EU decried as discriminatory, was passed.
The recovery plan, which was “shaped in consultation with experts, is being hobbled by ideologically and politically-motivated attacks,” the PM’s office said in a statement.
Hopefully, the plan will be assessed on professional grounds, independent from “Brussels’ insistence on letting LGBTQ activists into Hungarian kindergartens and schools,” the statement read, referring to criticisms that Hungary’s child protection law discriminates against the LGBTQ community.
“There is no reason for EU bodies to reject the Hungarian plan. We have responded to demands which were sprung on us unexpectedly, and fulfilled all requirements in line with RRF regulations,” according to the statement.
“Talks are ongoing between Hungary and the European Commission on the Hungarian recovery plan, and we await the Commission’s decision.”
In the featured photo illustration: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and EC president Ursula von der Leyen. Photo by Benko Vivien Cher/PM’s Press Office