The building of the European Parliament in Brussels – Photo: wikipedia

Ruling parties slam EP committee delegation’s ‘unworthy attacks’ at talks

Lawmakers of the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance said a delegation of the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee voiced "unworthy attacks" against and misconceptions in connection with Hungary and its government at their talks on Tuesday.

Erik Banki, the Fidesz head of parliament’s economic committee, told a press conference after the meeting that representatives of the economic, justice and European affairs committees had given the CONT delegation a detailed briefing. But the questions asked by the members of the delegation made it clear that they form their opinions based on media reports, Banki said.

Members of the delegation, he said, had voiced “fundamental misconceptions” at the meeting about the government’s economic policy, special taxes, the transparency of public procurements and utility costs, among other things.

He said members of the delegation had talked about a mass exodus of multinational firms from Hungary because of the government’s “discriminatory economic policy” and special taxes. But in reality, he said, more than 70 percent of German and more than 89 percent of American business leaders say they would repeat their past investments in Hungary because of the predictable legal and good taxation environment.

Concerning the transparency of public procurements, Banki said he had recommended to the head of the delegation that she seek information from the Public Procurement Authority and the Competition Office, which are independent of the government.

Meanwhile, Banki said the delegation had voiced the misconception regarding utility bills that Hungary was implementing measures that restrict the free market. He said Hungary insisted on keeping caps on utility bills in place up to average consumption despite the difficult circumstances.

Concerning the utilisation of EU funds, Banki said he had briefed the delegation on how Hungary had used up 85.5 percent of the funds at its disposal in the previous funding cycle compared with the EU average of 78 percent. He added that Hungary will use its own resources to pre-finance programmes whose EU funding had been suspended “for political reasons”.

Banki expressed hope that talks on Hungary’s EU funds would be concluded and the EP and the European Commission would make professional rather than political decisions.

Imre Vejkey, the Christian Democrat head of the justice committee, said the Hungarian lawmakers had proven to the EP delegation that Hungary was a “modern democratic country governed by the rule of law with independent institutions”. The delegation, however, delivered “extremely unworthy” attacks against the prime minister and the MPs themselves, which Vejkey said they “firmly rejected”.

He said the delegation had also attacked the lawmakers in connection with “the types of questions the press can ask MEPs” and questioned whether parliament had operated in the recent period or if laws were passed through government decrees instead.

Hajnalka Juhasz, a Christian Democrat member of the European affairs committee, said that the “critical tone” struck by the CONT delegation called into question its neutrality. She said the delegation had expressed only criticisms during the talks, adding that most of their questions had been “politically motivated”.

Cooperation between the Hungarian government and the European Commission is “very good”, she said, adding that they did not want this constructive dialogue to be broken by any “ideological and political pressure applied by the European Parliament”.

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