European Interest

MEPs take critical stance on Hungary

Flickr/Frank Schmidt/CC BY 2.0
A view of the Hungarian Parliament from the hill of Buda.

The European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee criticised the situation regarding corruption in Hungary.

In an opinion approved by a vote of 13 to 2 on April 25, the committee said “the current level of corruption, and the lack of transparency and accountability of public finances and the ineligible expenditure or overpricing of the financed projects, affects Union funds in Hungary”.

“This might represent a breach of the values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union and warrants the launch of the procedure under Article 7(1).”

As reported by the Budapest Business Journal, such a procedure (which could ultimately strip Hungary of its EU voting rights) is unlikely because it requires a unanimous vote by all other member states.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs had asked the Budgetary Control Committee to attach its opinion to a report it is preparing on Hungary. The opinion noted that Hungary had fallen by 19 points in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index since 2008, “making it one of the worst-performing member states”.

Also, the number of investigations carried out by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) between 2013 and 2016 in relation to Hungary stood at 41, the second-highest number in the EU.

According to Hungarian MEP Tamás Deutsch (a member of the ruling Fidesz party), who is also a member of the Budgetary Control Committee, the report was a one-sided and biased “political pamphlet” that “ignores the facts and contains a lot of slippery and erroneous data”.

“The original submission is part and parcel of political charges and the document’s statements fall into the category of political bluff and biased, false statements,” Deutsch said, adding that the intent behind the Article 7 threat was to persuade the Hungarian government to change its position on migration.

In turn, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó criticised the report as a selection of lies and factual errors that put the credibility of the entire document into question.

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