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Hungary maintained an open strategy at its talks with the European Commission, Tibor Navracsics, the regional development minister, said after European Union ambassadors on Monday sent a proposal to the European Council to approve Hungary’s recovery plan and unblock its recovery funding. He added that the government had given serious consideration to all requests and concerns coming from the Commission, and it was open to compromise if a good solution was offered. Accordingly, an agreement was reached with the EC concerning the rule-of-law procedure by September, allowing the sides to focus on the talks concerning the two large funds, and this brought about results by late November, he said. At the end of November, the EC said that it considered Hungary’s national recovery plan “excellent” and saw no further concerns regarding the cohesion funds, either, he added. The current development demonstrates the Council’s recognition of the efforts made so far, he said.
In response to a question, Navracsics said the last stage in the schedule of implementation was at the end of March and then the package of laws will have to be approved by Hungarian parliament. The EC said that if the end-of-March deadline is sustainable, then the freezing of funds can be lifted in April or May, he added. He said he trusted that there would be no further demands by the EU. Continuous dialogue has been maintained with the EC, and the milestones currently achieved demonstrated that Hungary’s efforts had been recognised, he said. The government will make an effort to clarify any possible problems raised during the talks with a view to preventing the need to raise any further demands, he added. Navracsics said there was no date set as yet for the signing of the partnership agreement. Monday’s deal had to be reached first and now within a few days, the date of signing the agreement will be announced, he added. The plan is to announce 25 new tender invitations by the end of March, he said. Commenting on the loan part involved in the recovery fund, he said there were six months left to decide whether a loan would be taken out or not. The government will make its decision depending on the economic environment at the time, he added. Commenting on the milestones set for Hungary during the EU talks, he said Hungary had a good chance of showing an example to other member states how to “handle an ideologically driven campaign of hysteria” by means of substantive measures, and how to make further steps in the areas of public procurements and the whitening of the economy. The future and legitimacy of the rule of law procedure will depend on how it can be kept at a distance from current politics and party politics, he said. The problem is not that the EU wants to protect its budgetary and financial interests, but the mixing of political considerations with legal ones, he said.
Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said the series of talks had resulted in a victory for the EU; and “we are also a member of the European Union”. Maintaining European unity is especially important in the current situation, he said. Gulyás also said that anti-corruption measures did not harm Hungary, and the situation concerning corruption was not worse in the country than in western Europe or countries that joined the EU more recently.