European Parliament insists EU must freeze Hungary funding

European Parliament insists EU must freeze Hungary funding
Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban arrives for a special meeting of the European council, at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Monday 30 May 2022. BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

European Parliament on Thursday voted in favour of the EU's move to freeze funds intended for Hungary – in order to protect the EU's budget against persistent rule of law breaches in the central European country.

The resolution passed by 416 votes in favour, 124 against and 33 abstentions. By adopting the resolution, MEPs are calling for greater safeguarding of EU funds against rule-breakers.

The move comes after the Commission on Wednesday finally increased the pressure on Orbán’s government by freezing up to €13.3 billion in transfers. The Commission found that Orbán’s government did not make good on its promises to manage corruption by a 19 November deadline.

Brussels will keep payments up to €5.8 billion from the EU's pandemic recovery fund and will support the European Commission's proposal to freeze €7.5 billion from the EU's regular budget

Reform failure

Hungary has presented 17 remedial measures, such as creating an anti-corruption task force and changes to its public procurement rules, to address the concerns. But on Thursday, MEPs stated that the measures proposed by Hungary don't go far enough in line with the Commission on Wednesday.

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The country's government has in recent months used the EU's unanimity vote in Council to take the EU hostage, dismantling EU unity in the face of Russia.

Hungary is currently blocking the Commission's plan to raise €18 billion in assistance for Ukraine as well as the EU's adoption of the global minimum corporate tax rate deal which over 130 countries agreed to last year.

The Council has until 19 December to make a decision by a qualified majority on the suggested rule of law conditionality.

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