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The European Commission is open to finding solutions to the issues with Hungary on the partnership agreement enabling the country to access the resources for its operative programmes and on the recovery and resilience fund (RRF) to offset the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the minister for regional development and the uptake of EU funds said on Friday. Tibor Navracsics said he had travelled to Brussels to open both negotiations, and had hope to reach an agreement and free EU resources for Hungary by the end of the year. Talks on the operative programmes are “progressing well on the expert level”, Navracsics said. Regarding the RRF funding, “which is informally tied to the rule-of-law conditionality”, Hungary has always been ready to find a compromise, he said. Regarding public procurement and corruption, Hungary will have to harmonise its statistics with the EC’s numbers: the body has earlier objected to the number of single-bidder public procurement procedures in Hungary, “while according to our data, that number is at and occasionally below the EU average in Hungary,” he said.
The government is planning amendments to legislation to further reduce the number of single-bidder cases, he added. Meanwhile, the EC “holds the stance that certain cases of corruption should be regulated separately, but they are already incorporated into [laws on] various crimes”, he said. While “a certain EU official” is pushing for Hungary to become a member of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), Public Prosecutor Laura Codruța Kovesi has praised cooperation with Hungarian authorities, he said. During the talks, Navracsics said he had met “no explicitly politically motivated conditions … but Commissioners’ readiness to cooperate can vary, depending on their political views.”