On Wednesday, 3 May, the Hungarian Parliament adopted the judicial reform law package, which is intended to meet the European Commission’s demands. This move will allow the government to access 13 billion euros from the Union’s cohesion fund, which was frozen until now. However, due to bureaucratic processions, even though Brussels and Budapest reached a deal, it will take a few months until the first money transfers begin.
After long-lasting negotiations between the Commission and the Hungarian government, Brussels gave the go-ahead for the reform package. While the Parliament adopted the new laws, this is not the end of the line. Now begins a lengthy process at the end of which the money will start flowing in. According to calculations, at the earliest, this will start in September, Portfolio reports.
Adopting the laws is not enough. The next step will see the President of Hungary, Katalin Novák sign the new regulations into effect. Once her signature has been applied, on 1 June the changes will materialise in the legal system.
Following this, the Hungarian government will have to request a review of the document from the European Commission. They will evaluate whether the new laws are enough to meet their initial demands. The Commission has 90 days to reply and issue its judgment.
If they deem the changes satisfactory, the first transfers can begin. The Commission will then keep monitoring how these funds are being used.
Assuming that everything will occur the way the government expects, this means that the earliest payments will arrive at the beginning of September. It’s good news for Budapest. According to EU diplomats, the technical agreement made prior to the adoption of the reform packages guarantees up to 80-85 percent that Brussels will accept the proposition.
However, this is not the end of the conflict between the European Union and Hungary. While 13 billion euros is a large amount of money, 25 billion are still locked away due to other concerns. Out of the 27 demands overall, the government satisfied only 4 of them.
Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó recently voiced his discontent with the state of affairs.
“The funds Hungary has the right to are being withheld for political reasons, unjustly, without a legal basis. These newer and newer expectations the Commission keeps claiming are becoming derogative”
Commissioner for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová commended Hungary for the reforms. However, she also highlighted that this is not the end of the story. She reminded the country that 23 demands are still unmet, and now the government has to follow through with its commitment in order to gain access to the frozen funds.