Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Hungary’s parliament recently approved two anti-corruption reforms to unlock funding from the European Union. The EU has long-expressed rule of law and graft concerns about the illiberal government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The bills were the first in a series parliament is expected to pass to improve the country’s stance on the rule of law and convince the European Union to reinstate its funding.
Parliament is firmly under the control of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. His ruling Fidesz party passed the amendment to the criminal code with 136 members of parliament voting yes. Seven voted against and 14 abstained from the vote.
What are the new amendments?
The government is expected to enact 17 changes to the law. The goal of those laws is to monitor the use of EU funds and bring greater transparency to the legislature.
The first of the two amendments approved Monday allows for complaints to be filed in court that can open corruption investigations.
The second law requires a period of public consultation prior to the adoption of a law. This is not contemporary practice in Hungary.
On Tuesday, parliament is expected to pass a law creating an “independent authority” that will oversee the use of EU funds. Other reforms are also expected Tuesday.
Why is parliament eager to reform now?
Billions of euros from the EU are currently being held up by Brussels over rule of law concerns in Hungary. Activists in Hungary say the changes do not do enough to address the country’s entrenched corruption.
Last month, the EU’s executive arm suggested it would suspend €7.5 billion ($7.3 billion) in financing to Orban’s government, which hopes to see the EU reverse course as Hungary confronts an economic downturn.
Hungary is the last country to see its COVID-19 recovery plan approved, with €5.8 billion still held up over concerns about corruption.
Last month, the European Parliament declared that Hungary is no longer a “full democracy” in a symbolic vote that angered Budapest.
The Central European country of 10 million is very reliant on EU funds.
On this topic, how the EU to react Brussels Morning consulted the MEP from Hungary – Mikuláš Peksa. He stated that the European Commission must finally realize that it is impossible to negotiate with Orbán’s corrupt government.
“As long as the Hungarian anti-corruption authorities are under Fidesz control, they simply cannot act unbiased, no matter what part of EU cohesion funds were talking about. We need to see tangible changes in Hungary first. Until then, there is no point in giving even a dime to the oligarchs from Budapest“ said the MEP.