Hungary expects to sign EU funding agreement within days

Dec 13, 2022, 3:58 AM | Updated: 4:00 am

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s government expects to sign an agreement within days that will bring it closer to accessing billions in European Union funding suspended over concerns of corruption and democratic erosion in the Central European country.

Tibor Navracsics, Hungary’s principal negotiator with the EU, told a news conference Tuesday that a new package of reforms would be submitted to the parliament by the end of March aimed at fulfilling the bloc’s conditions for accessing more than 12 billion euros (dollars) in suspended funding.

He said he expected to sign a formal agreement with the EU “within days” on accessing the funds, and that Hungary’s new round of reforms could result in Budapest receiving the much-needed money by spring.

“The last stage of this is the end of March, when the legislature will have to pass a package of laws which we hope will be the last,” Navracsics said, adding that the European Commission — the EU’s executive — has indicated that if the end of March deadline is met, the suspension of the funds could be lifted “as early as April or May.”

The 27 envoys of the EU nations reached a tentative agreement late Monday in a deal that brought Budapest closer to accessing the promised funds that have long been in jeopardy over complaints by the other member states that nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban had overseen systemic corruption and a dismantling of democratic institutions.

Under the agreement Budapest will gain access to 5.8 billion euros worth of EU pandemic recovery funds if it implements 27 “super milestones” on democratic reforms to unlock the money.

Hungary and the EU reached the agreement after Hungary had held up an EU aid package to Ukraine and the passage of a global minimum corporate tax.

A deal was also reached to decrease the proposed suspension in regular aid funds by about 1.2 billion euros to approximately 6.3 billion euros, which Hungary can still unlock by carrying out further reforms.

The historic decision is the first time that the EU has used a new “conditionality mechanism” which allows member countries to be financially penalized for violating rule-of-law and democracy standards, something the nationalist Orban has been accused of for years.

Only hours after the deal was reached, Orban announced on Facebook that he had signed a government decree raising pensions in Hungary by 15% from Jan. 1, a sign that Budapest was breathing a sigh of relief after the approval of its economic recovery plan.

“We must not forget that Hungary has great goals that go beyond the difficult times,” Orban said in a video on Facebook Tuesday. “One of those big goals is to ensure that pensioners can live in dignity and that the value of their pensions is preserved.”

Hungary’s forint currency gained more than 1% against the euro early Tuesday on news of the agreement, but was still down more than 11% since the beginning of the year. Hungary is also struggling with a 22.5% annual inflation rate, among the highest in the 27-member EU.

Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, said at the news conference that Hungary’s parliament would begin debating the NATO accession bids of Finland and Sweden on Feb. 20 at the start of the next legislative session. Hungary is the only NATO nation other than Turkey not to have approved the two countries’ accession bids.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

16 hours ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

2 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

9 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

10 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

12 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Hungary expects to sign EU funding agreement within days