Four legislative changes required to comply with European Commision conditions to obtain EU funds easily passed Parliament on Tuesday, writes Népszava. But amendments proposed by the opposition in parliamentary committees were brushed aside by the Fidesz-KDNP governing parties.
The first motion on the topic passed with 151 votes for versus 12 against and 19 abstentions, while the second motion received 150 votes for, 12 against, and 19 abstentions. Among opposition party MPs present in the chamber, Momentum and Jobbik voted for the proposals, while DK voted no. MSZP, Dialogue, and Our Homeland abstained, and LMP did not take part in the vote.
The four legislative proposals that passed were:
- An amendment to the legislative act, in accordance with the government’s pledge to submit 90% of draft laws to public consultation.
- A law providing funding for on-the-spot checks by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
- A law on controlling the use of EU budgetary funds, which will set up the Integrity Authority, tasked to protect the financial interests of the EU, and the Anti-Corruption Working Group, which will offer proposals in this regard.
- Another bill eliminates requesting compensation for “disproportionate use of labor resources” for public interest data requests. In the future, the government will set by decree the maximum amount that can be requested to copy and deliver documents.
In September, the European Commission proposed suspending 65% of Hungary’s cohesion funds over rule of law violations in the country that posed a threat to the joint EU budget. [Magyar Narancs]
I rarely engage in sarcasm, but the vote in the Hungarian Parliament to “pass anti-corruption laws to satisfy conditions for EU funds” has tested my patience i.e. asking the Parliament to pass any anti- corruption laws is like asking a fox to act as security for a group of hens. Given the well documented theft of public funds including, but not limited to EU funds, one need only read scholars such as Magyar Bálint (all of his relevant books are available in English as our host and many readers know). Hopefully, the EU is done playing games with this mafia regime and will no longer fund the regime. I am sure that the current US Ambassador, let alone most EU leaders are well aware of the corruption of this regime, which as the old proverb commented: the rot starts at the head and continues down.
Read: Let’s make the minimum of anti-corruption legislation so we can continue stealing! The end justifies the means, a little sacrifice which they will hollow out soon enough. It would be time to look at what was actually stolen in the past (instead of only looking at future theft) and to follow up with prosecution.
I join Misi’s hope of the EU wising up to Fidesz’ legislative smoke screen. But financial realities in Hungary are much worse than officially acknowledged. As we speak, Hungary is on the verge of state bankruptcy. Negociations on delayed payments to Russian energy-suppliers have the highest (unofficial) priority and several counties are behind on wages for employees. In short – Orbán’s candle burns at both ends.
While the final decision on whether to suspend funding to Hungary or not rests with the Council, which should vote on it in the next couple of months, there’s a little talked about point in the Commission’s proposal that I find reassuring: to be off the hook, the Hungarian government not only needs to pass the relevant legislation (easy-peasy for this regime), but to accept bimonthly inspections from Brussels’ “men in black”, which will rule if the money should continue flowing or not. If used effectively and decisively, this could mean Hungary will be intervened by the UE in a way we haven’t seen since Greece was.
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