Hungary govt sees ‘good chance’ for deal on EU funds within weeks
BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Hungary’s government is doing its best to meet its commitments to Brussels and there is a “good chance” of sealing a deal on European Union funds within weeks, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff told a briefing on Wednesday.
Orban’s nationalist government and the Brussels-based European Commission have been in lengthy talks about the release of billions of euros in economic aid envisaged for Budapest but frozen over rule of law disputes.
“The government has done its best and is still doing so, in order to seal the necessary agreements with the EU and there is a good chance that this will happen within weeks, now we can count in days or weeks, rather than months,” Gergely Gulyas said.
“All agreements are for certain once the ink has dried on the documents,” he added.
Gulyas said that realistically, the most likely scenario was that a decision could be made on the release of recovery funds the week after next.
Orban’s government made a raft of commitments to Brussels to stave off a suspension of billions of euros of EU money over breaches of democratic checks and balances including weak anti-corruption safeguards.
Facing surging energy costs and inflation, a weak forint and a slowing economy, Orban, long at odds with the EU, has taken a series of steps to secure the funds. Last week an EU source told Reuters that Hungary had made a “significant step” towards securing billions in economic stimulus funds by accepting European Union demands on the independence of the judiciary.
“This economic context has increased pressure on Orban to comply with, or at least appear to comply with, the European Commission demands over rule of law and anti-corruption measures at the earliest opportunity to unlock EU funds that could positively boost investor confidence and the economy,” Eurasia group said in a note earlier this month.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean)