Budapest, Nov 30, 2022 (AFP)
Budapest said on Wednesday that it would seek to "convince" the European Commission to not suspend billions of euros in EU funds for Hungary over rule of law concerns.
"We trust that we will implement the remaining requirements, and in 2023 we can convince the Commission... that continued suspension of funds won't be needed and that we can access 100 percent of the funds in 2023," Tibor Navracsics, Budapest's chief negotiator with the bloc, told reporters.
The European Commission recommended on Wednesday that 13 billion euros ($13 billion) in EU funds for Hungary be frozen because Budapest is falling short on its commitments to meet European standards on the rule of law.
The EU executive said Hungary had in particular failed to make good on promised reforms to ensure a fair judicial system when it comes to prosecutorial decisions.
EU member states will now have until December 19 to vote on whether to back, reject or change the commission recommendation.
Navracsics insisted there was "no dispute with the European Commission that we are moving in the right direction".
"If the situation is compared to a 100-metre (330-foot) sprint, the Hungarians are now at 90 metres, provided that the race really ends at 100 metres," he added.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, said that it was "only a matter of misunderstanding" in a few points where the two sides still disagreed.
Brussels has been frequently at loggerheads with Orban and his government over what it sees as their contempt for democracy and the rule of law.
Budapest in turn often criticises Brussels, including EU sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, blaming them for the country's current economic woes and record inflation.
"It's very important that the Commission apparently has realised that the Hungarian government is not a credible actor when it comes to promises," Marta Pardavi, co-head of rights NGO Hungarian Helsinki Committee, told AFP.
"To remedy these systemic issues -- like judicial independence or corruption -- we can't have half-hearted promises and half-hearted delivery," she said.
Miklos Ligeti, a legal expert at Transparency International, also welcomed the commission's insistence on reforms though its Wednesday decision was "harsh for the Hungarian people".
Hungary's parliament last month began passing reforms to fight corruption, including setting up an "independent authority" to better control the use of EU funds.
Sumber : AFP
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