© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the media as the first day of the European Union summit arrives at the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium, on June 24, 2021. John Thys / Pool via REUTERS
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The European Union seeks a two-month delay in talks on the Hungarian pandemic recovery plan, and funding is likely to be delayed over controversial issues as part of an “ideological war” with Brussels. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday. .
A spokesman for the European Commission said on Thursday that Hungary’s recovery plan, which would fetch 7.2 billion euros ($ 8.47 billion) in EU grants, was still under evaluation and it was unclear what the next steps would be in the future. process.
The Commission’s assessment and the infringement measures launched against Hungary by a law that the EU says discriminates against the LGBT community, were two separate processes, although they were carried out in parallel, the spokesperson said.
Orban told public radio that Hungary was getting closer to an agreement with the Commission on the economics of its recovery plan, and attributed the delay entirely to a dispute over LGBT legislation, which has been harshly criticized by leaders of the EU.
“The way I see it now is that the EU will seek a two-month delay in resuming talks (on the recovery plan), but this calls into question the very essence of the fund,” Orban said.
He said Hungary would start funding the same projects partially approved by Brussels from its national budget to avoid further delays in accessing funds.
“Whether the money comes from Brussels or not, we will pay these funds from the Hungarian budget,” Orban said.
Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said Tuesday that the European Commission will not approve Hungary’s recovery plan until it carries out judicial reform and ensures corruption cases are investigated.
Reynders cited systemic problems with the rule of law in Hungary, adding that the Commission was ready to use all tools to protect democracy, including the suspension of EU funds.
“Corruption is often mentioned as a problem, but we were already close to a deal,” Orban said. “Suddenly, after passing the law on the protection of children, we became very corrupt. Obviously, this is a cover story, a pretext.”
The measures, which have caused anxiety in the LGBT community, prohibit the use of materials that are considered to promote homosexuality and gender change in schools.
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