The European Commission will propose prolonging the assessment period of Hungary’s recovery plan, in which the country has requested 7.2 billion euros in funding from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) designed to offset the fallout of the coronavirus epidemic, an EC spokesperson said on Monday.
“We are working constructively to conclude our assessment as fast as possible. Should our assessment require more weeks rather than days, we will propose to Hungary to agree on an extension of the 2-month deadline,” Arianna Podesta told a press conference in Brussels.
The EC accepted the recovery plans from 16 states by the Monday deadline, and asked for a prolonged assessment period in the case of Poland, Estonia, Romania, Sweden and Finland. During this period, the member states have the opportunity to provide further information to the Commission, and to amend their plans, Podesta said.
Hungary submitted its plan on the use of RRF funds in May, with the lion’s share — 34.1 percent of the funds — allocated to the development of the health-care system.
The development of environmentally friendly transport and the education system would receive 25 percent and 20.4 percent of the resources, respectively.
Additional development plans include promoting the switchover to the circular economy, closing the gap between underdeveloped and better developed regions, as well as environmental protection, he added.
PM Office reaction
The Prime Minister’s Office said in response that talks between the EC and Hungary had been under way and close to completion when the commission “came up with impossible demands” after the government-sponsored child protection law, which the EU decried as discriminative, was passed.
The recovery plan, which was “shaped in consultation with experts, is being hobbled by ideologically and politically motivated attacks,” the PM’s office said in a statement.
Hopefully, the plan will be assessed on professional grounds, independently from “Brussels’s insistence on letting LMBTQ activists into Hungarian kindergartens and schools,” the statement said, referring to criticisms that Hungary’s child protection law discriminated against the LMBTQ community.
“There is no reason for EU bodies to reject the Hungarian plan. We have responded to demands which were sprung on us unexpectedly, and fulfilled all requirements in line with RRF regulations,” the statement said.
“Talks are ongoing between Hungary and the European Commission on the Hungarian recovery plan, and we await the Commission’s decision,” it said.
The statement slammed the Hungarian opposition for “lobbying for the Hungarian plan and talks to be frozen”.
As we wrote today, Brussels “could not thwart the Hungarian economy even if it wanted to”, Finance Minister Mihály Varga said in an interview on Monday.