The European Commission on Wednesday said it has decided to give its support for the adoption of Hungary’s plan for accessing EU recovery funding worth 5.8 billion euros, though the EC will continue to freeze 7.5 billion euros in cohesion funding.
Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, told a press conference that the EC would support the adoption of Hungary’s plan if the country fulfills a set of conditions connected with the rule of law. At the same time, the EC will continue to freeze 7.5 billion euros in cohesion funding, as Hungary has not made enough progress in ensuring transparency in the use of EU funding, he said.
Suspending Hungary’s access to cohesion funding has been proposed as part of EC legislative framework designed to protect the EU budget, he added.
He said Hungary’s plan contained a broad range of reforms and investments which could help to address many economic and social challenges outlined in the EU’s country recommendations. Planned measures include supporting sustainable growth and social and regional cohesion, he said, adding that the green and digital transitions, education, social policy, the labour market, health care, the fight against corruption, the independence of the judiciary, public procurement, taxation and the pension system were the areas especially affected, and addressing them would contribute to meeting the 27 “milestones” stipulated in the EU’s recovery and resilience conditions.
Reynders added that these requirements for the protection of EU financial interests must be fulfilled before any recovery payments can be made. The commission’s evaluation of Hungary’s recovery plan is being forwarded to the European Council, which has four weeks to consider the matter, he added. Fully 70 percent of recovery subsidies granted to EU member states must be committed before Dec. 31, he noted.
Meanwhile, the commissioner said Hungary was not making adequate progress to address the EC concerns regarding the use of EU funds, and “further fundamental steps” would have to be taken to allay those concerns about corruption and public procurement arrangements. Hungary has committed to implementing 17 measures aimed at allaying these concerns. The EC is forwarding its position regarding the implementation of these measures to the Council, and a final decision will be made by 19 December, he added.
The employment of eight teachers in three secondary schools in Budapest will be terminated as of Dec. 1 on the ground of dereliction of duty, the interior ministry, which is in charge of public education, said on Wednesday. The teachers who took unlawful strike action and participated in a demonstration had been previously informed by their employers, the school district directorate, that they would be relieved of their positions if they unlawfully neglected their teaching duties for any reason, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry noted it had underlined its guiding principle that the interests of students were paramount. “Students attend school to study … the unlawful behaviour [of a teacher] cannot be a good example for them to follow,” the ministry said. The ministry said another 24 teachers would be informed during the day about the consequences of unlawfully neglecting their duties.