EU approval of Hungary’s recovery plan as reported in the press “is a big step forward”, Tibor Navracsics told a press briefing on Thursday.
The minister for regional development said it appeared that by the end of the year Hungary would be able to conclude agreements with the European Commission, and Hungary would not lose its EU funding.
Hungary, he added, had met the 17 requirements stipulated by the European Commission, and pre-determined schedule for changing the power structure between the National Judicial Council and the National Judicial Office with a March 31 deadline was on course.
Navracsics said the government had not received official notification of the EC decision. However, press reports indicating that the commission may suspend payment of 65 percent of funding for the operational programmes implied that payments would be delayed rather than resources would be lost.
A deal on the partnership agreement “will be reached by the end of the year”, he said. Press reports indicate that the EC will recommend the adoption of Hungary recovery plan, he said, adding that reports of its position did not amount to “anything new”.
The minister said every step stipulated as part of the conditionality procedure had been carried out by the government in cooperation with the EC.
Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said at the roundtable that Hungary would only lose EU funding if the partnership agreement with the EC was not signed this year.
He said that even if a decision referred to in press reports is passed, Hungary would still receive the 7.3 billion euros worth of funding it is entitled to in 2023 in framework of the EU’s 2021-2027 financial cycle.
The transfer of the amount would only be delayed if the EU’s freeze on the payment of funds remained in effect also in 2024, he said.
Gulyás said “the EC’s decision indicated in press reports only refers to a change in communication”. He argued that, under pressure by the European Parliament, the European Commission would put the emphasis on sustaining the conditionality mechanism rather than on signing agreements, adding that it was a demonstration to Hungary of rigour, he said.
In connection with the EU plan to provide Ukraine 18 billion euros worth of assistance, Gulyás said “Ukraine must receive that money, either in common financing or in the form of individual support by member states”. He noted however that a proposal on taking out a common EU loan had not been drafted. Gulyás said Hungary would not support raising a common loan.
At the same time, Gulyás ruled out Hungary supporting the adoption of the global minimum tax, arguing that if adopted by Europe, it would seriously hurt the continent’s competitiveness against the United States.