“A total of 300 million euros in EU funds will soon be made available to Hungary,” announced the Prime Minister’s press chief in Brussels on Thursday. According to Bertalan Havasi, “Viktor Orbán’s letter has mobilized the EU machinery in less than a week.” As we reported earlier, exactly a week ago, the Prime Minister asked the EU Commission to release the money from the Corona reconstruction fund that was earmarked for Hungary but blocked. “The war in Ukraine poses an unprecedented challenge to the Member States of the European Union,” Orbán wrote in his letter. According to press reports, however, two other things are at stake.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.
In a letter, the Hungarian Prime Minister asked the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for the immediate provision of the funds allocated to the country from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility. However, according to press reports, the Commission wants to examine Hungary’s request first, demanding proper justification and program, as well as a re-evaluation and approval of the already submitted plan. But now the PM’s press officer says that Orbán could achieve his goal with the letter.
After receiving the letter, the European Commission agreed that Hungary should receive an advance payment of the amount from one of the EU rescue funds,”
Bertalan Havasi announced in a statement on Thursday. He wrote:
“Viktor Orbán’s initiative has mobilized the EU machinery in less than a week and the European Commission has proposed an amendment to the REACT-EU program,” said Havasi, adding that this would give Hungary unconditional access to 300 million euros in EU funds within a couple of weeks. Havasi also called it “a clear refutation of the left’s lies about EU funds.”
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Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures, PM Orbán wrote in his letter to European Commission President Von der Leyen, stressing that a war is under way at Hungary's borders and in the past weeks alone, nearly half a million Ukrainian refugees arrived in Hungary fleeing the war.Continue reading
This is partly true, because Hungary will get EU money, but not the money Viktor Orbán asked for in his letter.
As we reported on Wednesday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán asked the European Commission in a letter to partially draw on the credit line made available to the country under the EU’s Recovery Plan, effective immediately. In addition to the wave of refugees from Ukraine, the Prime Minister based his request primarily on the fact that “the economic impact of the war and sanctions is weighing heavily on the Hungarian economy,” referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the EU’s punitive measures against Russia.
As Portfolio writes, Orbán’s press chief spoke about a completely different source than the reconstruction fund, which was also mentioned by the PM in the letter. It is the 10 billion euros as part of the so-called REACT-EU program, the flexibility of which was proposed by the European Commission back in early March to deal with the Ukrainian refugee crisis as quickly as possible.
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The government previously waived this loan, but is now requesting it. Accordingly, the Cabinet is asking for a credit line totaling about HUF 3,400 billion (EUR 9.1bn).Continue reading
The Commission adopted this proposal on March 7 for Cohesion Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE) to enable the Member States and regions to support people fleeing the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. CARE provides the necessary flexibility to the Cohesion Policy rules for the period 2014-2020 so that available funds can be quickly reallocated for such emergency assistance. In addition, the €10 billion in funds foreseen for 2022 from the Reconstruction Aid for European Cohesion and Territories (REACT-EU) can be used for these new requirements, all in the context of the overall objective of post-pandemic reconstruction. Finally, on March 23, the European Commission outlined the concrete measures that will be taken to help Member States meet the needs of people fleeing the war against Ukraine and its people. As one wrote on the EU website, “Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some three and a half million people, mainly women and children, have arrived in the European Union in the space of just four weeks. Both the scale and the speed of arrivals are unprecedented. While the EU continues tirelessly to support those suffering from the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, this Communication focuses on actions inside the EU to support those who are fleeing the country. […] The EU’s welcome is epitomized by the first-ever activation of the Temporary Protection Directive, to offer quick and effective assistance and clear legal status. […] Beyond immediate assistance in terms of support at the border, reception, and civil protection, the EU is today taking further steps to help the Member States ensure that those in need of protection can effectively exercise their rights to education, medical care, housing, and employment – things that are characteristic of our European way of life.”
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The European Commission's spokesman also pointed out that Hungary would have to justify the request and demonstrate the need for more funding, further reforms, and investments with agreed milestones and targets.Continue reading
In this sense, Viktor Orbán’s letter achieved his goal of providing flexible EU funds as quickly as possible to the countries most affected by the Ukrainian refugee crisis, but it does not mean the money that was previously blocked for Hungary.
Featured image via MTI/European Council