BRUSSELS – It is a tug-of-war with an uncertain outcome that is taking place these days between Bruxelles e Budapest. On the table is the possible (probable?) suspension of the cohesion funds destined for Hungary. The country has so far failed to meet all its commitments on the rule of law. News from the community are expected next week. Any final decision rests with the Twenty-seven, with a qualified majority.
Asked about the rumors that give for certain a suspension of European funds, the spokeswoman of the Community executive Dana Spinant he replied vaguely: «A process is underway which involves the college of commissioners. You know that last November 19th the deadline within which Budapest had to introduce changes to its legislation expired. Times are now short. We are preparing a formal decision, possibly for next week.”
Requests not processed
The cause of this tightening by the European Commission is to be found in the fact that Budapest has not introduced all the safeguards required to fight, among other things, fraud and corruption in the country. A list of 17 requests had been formulated in mid-September by the Austrian Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who had given Hungary two months to adopt the various measures.
Since then, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has taken only a few steps. “In principle, a decision on the freezing of cohesion funds could come on 30 November,” confirmed an EU official on 24 November. The object of the measure would be 7.5 billion euros, equal to a third of the money that is due to Budapest under the 2021-2027 budget.
The decision in the meeting of 6 December
It would then be up to the finance ministers to decide in their meeting on December 6. The rumors artfully circulated by the Commission this week they serve in fact to put Budapest under pressure. In the meantime, we must not forget that Hungary is also putting pressure on Brussels, effectively threatening to veto the European decision to help Ukraine with loans amounting to 18 billion euros (see Il Sole 24 Ore of 9 November).