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Talks on timetable for IMF-EU negotiations could start in May

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Hungary can start talks already in May on preparations for official negotiations on precautionary financial assistance the country is seeking from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, Minister without portfolio Tamás Fellegi, Hungary's chief negotiator in the matter, said on public television late Wednesday.

"We can start already in May those negotiations that will provide the framework for the actual economic negotiations," Fellegi told Duna TV's Közbeszéd program.

Fellegi said the size of the assistance would have to be enough to send a reassuring message to markets, but at the same time could not be much more than necessary, because that would send a negative message to markets.

He said two infringement procedures against Hungary by the EU concerning the independence of its data protection authority and a reduction in the retirement age of judges would not affect the negotiations. He added that approval by Brussels of Hungary's updated Convergence Program could make the talks easier.

The European Commission said earlier on Wednesday Hungary had taken "sufficient action and commitments" with regard to an infringement procedure on the independence of the country's central bank to start talks on the precautionary financial assistance.

Fellegi said at a press conference in the afternoon that the next step would be for experts to lay down a timetable for the talks.

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