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EC approves Hungary partnership agreement on cohesion funding

The European Commission on Thursday granted its approval to the partnership agreement with Hungary concerning cohesion funding to the country in the 2021-2027 budgeting period.

The funds, due to Hungary under the agreement, will be used to improve Hungary’s administrative capacity, promote transparency and prevention of graft, as well as environmental purposes and investments aimed at digitalisation, the commission said.

The agreement includes a detailed roadmap for Hungary to take measures in terms of administrative capacity and to handle issues around such areas as transparency of public procurement, effectiveness of anti-corruption measures, prevention of fraud and conflicts of interest, as well as improving the capacities of the recipients of cohesion funds, the commission said. It added that “this roadmap has close links with the Recovery and Resilience Plan and Rule of Law Conditionality process”.

The funds, totalling nearly 22 billion euros, will help Hungary contribute to such common priorities as a balanced rural development, a fair environmental and digital transition, while they will support building an innovative and inclusive welfare market, the commission said.

According to the commission’s statement, Hungary is “committed to remedy the deficiencies” as its recovery and resilience plan includes reforms aimed at strengthening the independence of the judiciary. The statement added, however, that relevant conditions would be considered fulfilled if Hungary took those measures it had committed to.

Concerning Hungary’s child protection law, the commission said its provisions, as well as risks around the freedom of science and refugee rights “have a concrete and direct impact on the compliance with the Charter in the implementation of certain specific objectives of three cohesion programmes and of the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund respectively”. “For these parts of those programmes Hungary is therefore currently not fulfilling the horizontal enabling condition on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,” they said, adding that the commission was open to further dialogue and close cooperation with the Hungarian government.

Unless relevant conditions are met, the commission “cannot reimburse the related expenditure submitted other than for technical assistance and for fulfilling the enabling conditions”, it warned.

Hungary’s minister of regional development, Tibor Navracsics, welcomed that “Hungary has signed all agreements with the European Commission facilitating access to EU funds”.

In a video message published on Facebook, Navracsics said an advance payment of 130 billion forints (EUR 323m) was expected to arrive, after which public tenders would be announced and actual projects could be launched.

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