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GULYÁS: REPORTS OF EC DOCUMENT ON HUNGARY PROCUREMENT LAWS 'FAKE NEWS'

 

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff said that reports of the European Commission requiring amendments to Hungary’s public procurement laws were “fake news”. Reuters news agency reported on Monday that it had seen a document in which the EC had called on Hungary to amend public procurement regulations to prevent “systemic irregularities” in the use of the European Union’s recovery fund. Reuters reported that the EC document issued on Jan. 26 requested specific changes to Hungary’s public procurement legislation, especially concerning data transparency and accessibility. Gergely Gulyás told MTI on Tuesday that Hungary had received no such request, whether official or informal, adding that the government was cooperating closely with the EC on the use of the recovery fund and on the EU’s next multiannual financial framework. Hungary is set to receive 6.3 billion euros from the fund if the country submits a detailed plan by the end of April on how it intends to make use of the funding and the EU accepts the plan. He called on the commission to clarify the situation and reject the “allegations” because “fake news of that sort undermines and threatens the public trust needed to ratify the decree on [member states’] own resources”. Citing EC data, Gulyás said decision-making in Hungarian public procurement practices was considered “very good”, while transparency was “outstanding”, with 98% of the information on such procedures available to the public. The number of procurement procedures without publication has fallen from 3,600 to 274 in the past six years, Gulyás said. Based on the internal market scoreboard, the EU classified Hungary’s public procurement system as “average” in 2019, he said, adding that Hungary ranked among the top ten member states in that area. The government has nevertheless passed a resolution to push the ratio of single-tenderer procedures to below 15%, he said. “We were the ones who pushed for the EU to set up concrete regulations to protect its financial interests rather than using vague criteria like the rule of law,” Gulyás said.