Hungary is facing an increasingly difficult economic situation, and we urgently need to draw down frozen EU funds. To achieve this, it is of the utmost importance that the Hungarian government reaches a compromise with the European Commission as quickly as possible.
The fact that the procedure has dragged on so long and that we have already lost HUF 300 billion is entirely the fault and responsibility of the government. In fact, if no agreement is reached in the coming months, we could lose a significant part of the total non-refundable aid budget, an additional HUF 1600 billion, through government failure. It is therefore Fidesz’s duty and responsibility to finally reach an agreement in Brussels and make the money we are owed available. The steps announced by the government this week, such as changing the proportion of single-actor tenders in agreement with the Commission’s proposal on four points, providing legal remedies in corruption cases against decisions of the Prosecutor General’s Office and wider public consultation in the legislative process, are all well and good, but sadly they are likely to fall short. The Prime Minister of Fidesz is undoubtedly a great gambler, and as usual, as soon as he senses that he has hit a wall, he will put on a show of being a cooperative Prime Minister, in the hope that this will calm the mood and be enough to unlock the money. It’s a big gamble, because this game also includes the fact that if the European Commission, quite rightly, by the way, demands that the agreement should include the fulfillment of the additional objections to the rule of law and country-specific recommendations that they have long ago put on the table of the Hungarian government, then, just watch, the prime minister will spread his hands and say so into the camera of public television: ‘I told you that these Brusselsites are like that; they are the cause of all the problems, while we, the good-hearted Fidesz government, are very open to compromise’.
The reality behind the gamble is much simpler than that: the Hungarian prime minister believed that, as he had done so many times before, he would be able to blackmail the European institutions successfully, because they usually gave in in the end, to avoid the trouble. Enough and to spare. This time, too, he was going to all the way to the wall, maybe even two steps beyond it, and then, if necessary, he would blackmail a little, dance back half a step until the end result would be to his advantage. But now the hand is noticeably different and bluffs are not taken so well. The Hungarian Government has indeed become a prisoner of its own crimes and wicked games: this time around, the sweet talk will not wash, and nor will the Cipolla-like magic tricks starting with “do not mind what I say…” The proceedings against the Hungarian government are based on concrete and tangible points, which can and must be agreed on. It is not a market bargaining on whether it is alright to leave more on the scales than ordered. It is therefore important and fundamental that the government’s correspondence with the European Commission should be made public as soon as possible and in full. Recently, I asked Fidesz to make the Commission’s expectations and the detailed Hungarian responses public; so far, this has not been honoured, not a word from them on the matter. However, it is not right in any way that the government is haggling over the heads of millions of Hungarians about the fate of us all, but the details of this are being concealed or, worse still, outright lied about. Indeed, it has already been revealed that Fidesz ministers have directly and knowingly lied to Hungarian people’s face when they claimed that the recovery funds were frozen because of the adoption of the homophobic law. If the government is lying about this, what else is it not telling the truth about regarding the negotiations on resources in Brussels?
Since the government has not released the documents requested, has not responded to my request and we do not have a clear picture, the government is forcing me to go to the European Commission on this matter. Today, as an MEP, I sent an urgent letter of formal notice to Vice-President of the European Commission for Economic Affairs Valdis Dombrovskis, asking him, among other things, whether the four points of the Hungarian Government’s commitment are sufficient to mobilize billions of EU funds, in particular the Recovery Fund, and whether there are any additional requirements or criteria that the Hungarian Government must meet in order to reach an agreement. Let us be clear: it is in Hungary’s interest to receive these funds as soon as possible, and I am therefore firmly of the view that a compromise must be reached as soon as possible, but first of all the Fidesz government must regain its credibility. It can do so vis-à-vis the European community if we immediately join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, and vis-à-vis the Hungarian public in this matter if it apologizes for the factual lies that were told in connection with the Brussels negotiations and promptly publishes all its correspondence with the Commission.
MEP István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
10 July, 2022