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Fact check: Hungary is getting new EU funds, but not because of Orbán’s letter

picture of piles of euros

Despite assertions to the contrary in the pro-government press, a letter by Viktor Orbán did not cause the European Union to release new funds to Hungary, as plans for the country to receive this money had been in the works even before the Prime Minister sent the letter on March 18.

Shortly after news circulated that the EU would be disbursing 300 million euros (US $329 million) to Hungary from the REACT-EU fund in the next few weeks, the pro-government media and the government’s official communication channels began attributing it to a letter that Viktor Orbán sent to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen the previous Friday.

In his letter, Prime Minister Orbán wrote that Hungary was requesting a secured loan under the Recovery and Resilience Facility from the European Commission, referring to the credit line that the Hungarian government rejected last year because of stipulations on how it would be required to spend the money.

But it now appears that the economic impact caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced Hungary to rethink its earlier position, even if asking Brussels for the loan causes the government some political loss of face.

And despite Orbán’s plea for urgent financial assistance, the EU does not appear to be in a rush to disburse these funds, with the Commission stating that they were still “analyzing” the letter sent by the Hungarian Prime Minister a week ago.

Despite this, Hungary’s pro-government media published headines on Thursday afternoon suggesting that the 300 million euros soon to arrive in the country was a result of Orbán’s letter.

  • Index: “Hungary can access 300 million euros following Viktor Orbán’s letter
  • Origo: “Left-wing lies fail: new EU money coming to Hungary
  • Public media: “Viktor Orbán has started the machinery of the EU, with more money coming to Hungary

Even the Prime Minister’s Press Chief, Bertalan Havasi, was not immune to providing misleading statements, writing in a statement:

It is an exquisite refutation of left-wing lies about European Union funds that in less than a week, Viktor Orbán’s initiative started the EU’s machinery and the Commission proposed an amendment to the REACT-EU regulation.

-wrote Havasi, who added that “in practice, this means that in a few weeks’ time, 300 million euros will be available for Hungary without preconditions.”

However, these funds would have arrived to Hungary anyway, even without Viktor Orbán’s letter.

[Telex]

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