The European Commission has pledged to hold back all €22 billion ($23 billion) of the bloc’s cohesion funds for Hungary until Budapest meets conditions on the asylum system, academic freedoms, LGBTQ+ rights and judiciary independence.
Brussels and Budapest have repeatedly locked horns over the rule of law, as well as education and migration policies. Hungary also voiced opposition to the EU’s decision last month to provide a hefty sum to Kiev amid the ongoing Russian special military operation.
The funds aim to provide support to EU members with a gross national income per capita below 90% in order to boost the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the bloc.
EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira told reporters that the European Commission considers that the horizontal enabling condition on the Charter of Fundamental Rights is not yet fulfilled by the Hungarian government.
This means that the European Commission cannot reimburse expenditure. We’ll keep working with Hungarian authorities to overcome this situation?
According to her, in addition to the cohesion funds, the EU is also holding back Hungary’s €5.8 billion in grants from the bloc’s recovery fund until Budapest tackles concerns over the independence of courts.
Ferreira’s remarks followed the European Council giving the green light to as much as $18 billion in a new package for Kiev, which Brussels said would come in the form of highly concessional loans, disbursed in regular installments as of 2023.
The move came amid Hungary’s open opposition to the Ukraine assistance package, which was okayed as Russia continues its special military operation in Ukraine.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto pointed out that his country had done its share by providing Ukraine’s health, education, cultural and religious institutions with hundreds of millions of euros as part of support amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
We will certainly not support any kind of joint EU borrowing in this field. Why? Because we have already done it once. We supported joint borrowing during the Corona-virus epidemic, and that was more than enough.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2022.