Lara Wolters of the Labor Party and other MEPs who oversee the budget said the EU should not yet release blocked EU subsidies to Hungary. The rule of law in Hungary is deteriorating further and the EU cannot count on European money well spent, they emphasized during a visit to the country.
Many billions in EU subsidies to Hungary have been frozen due, among other things, to the poor state of the judiciary and widespread corruption. Brussels holds money from the coronavirus recovery fund and subsidies to support the poorer parts of the union, among other things. But some measures to make the judiciary more independent again have been well received by the European Commission. It appears to be preparing to absorb the government in Budapest now, Walters says.
deprived and disturbed
It shouldn’t come to that, says PvdA MEP, who with other parliamentary specialists has been scouting Hungary in recent days. They found that “opposition and critical media are discriminated against and harassed” and that “foreign companies are pressured or coerced into buying”. For example, Budapest, where the opposition is suddenly forced to pay more to the government, and a soup kitchen in a mission church receives an intimidating visit from inspectors armed with machine guns.
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Walters says the delegation from Brussels was “received with hostility”, particularly by the pro-government press. ‘Since we arrived it’s been a toss of mud.’ Childish you can’t undo for a while. Such a major figure as the Hungarian Minister of Justice did not have time for visitors and the Court of Accounts, among others, did not have an answer to their many questions.
“At the same time you notice that they want something from us,” says Walters. Formal meetings were held with all due respect. So she is also hoping that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will eventually come through. The Hungarian economy is in bad shape and is in dire need of European money. “They are really in trouble and they need us.”
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Ultimately, EU countries and the European Commission decided on subsidies to Hungary, Walters acknowledges. But we keep pressing. We would like to help Hungary recover, but only if all conditions are met.
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