European Commission payments not suspended; clarification requested

History

The European Commission (EC) has not suspended payments to Hungary, but is expecting an answer from Hungarian authorities on concerns over the use of funding related to a restructuring of the system for managing such monies, a spokesperson for European Commissioner for regional policy Johannes Hahn told MTI on Monday. 

At a press conference in the afternoon on Monday, deputy state secretary for development policy Nándor Csepreghy said the EC had asked the government to refrain from sending invoices for payouts of EU funding until the review of the matter of the restructuring is completed. 

Shirin Wheeler said fundamental changes had been made to the way cohesion funds are handled in Hungary with the restructuring of the development agency and the integration of intermediary bodies with the ministries. “We must be certain that the system of managing and overseeing EU-funded investments is operating appropriately and that there is sufficient administrative capacity for investments to be implemented,” she added. Wheeler said the EC and Hungary had already exchanged information on the matter once before and that both sides continued to operate closely on the implementation of the restructuring and the exchange of further information. The EC is “analysing the situation” at present and is waiting for an answer from the Hungarian authorities, she added.

Earlier on Monday, the spokesman of ruling Fidesz said it was “conceivable” that the EC may temporarily suspend the payment of EU funds. But allocations would be guaranteed from Hungary’s central budget to the recipients entitled to receive funding, said Robert Zsigo. He said that the EC had asked for a change to the tender system, and the Hungarian government has started to work on this in cooperation with the commission. He said a statement by the government is expected later on Monday.

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