Go back to drawing board! VDL issued systemic fraud warning over Hungary deal – MEP fury

Viktor Orban hits out at EU over coronavirus vaccine roll out

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The EU Commission President has been travelling across the bloc to rubber stamp member states’ recovery plans. Ahead of her visit to Budapest, Ms von der Leyen was issued a warning by the Renew Group in the European Parliament.

The MEPs, led by Dacian Ciolos, are asking the EU executive leader to impose conditionalities on Viktor Orban’s plan before it can be approved, to ensure EU taxpayers money are well spent for the benefit of all Hungarians.

The worry is that the far-right government will distribute the funds to fraud-prone politicians and organisations close to Viktor Orban’s party.

In a staunch letter to Ms von der Leyen, the MEPs wrote: “Fraud in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary is endemic — or to quote the Commission: it is ‘systemic’.

“In 2020, your services found that Hungary’s anti-corruption framework is inadequate and that ‘investigation and prosecution appears less effective in Hungary than in other Member States’ and ‘determined systematic action to prosecute high-level corruption is lacking’.

“In 2019 and 2020, the Commission issued sets of ‘country-specific recommendations’ where you asked the Hungarian government to ‘reinforce the anti-corruption framework, including by improving prosecutorial efforts and access to public information, and strengthen judicial independence as well as ‘improve competition in public procurement’.

“We remind you that those country-specific recommendations are among the criteria a Member State must meet to access the EU’s recovery funds under the Recovery and Resilience Facility regulation.

“You have leverage here, and we ask you to use it.”

They continued: “We are not saying that Hungary as a country should not get its fair share of the EU’s recovery funds.

“But we think those funds should benefit all Hungarians, not just a few politically connected ones.

“We therefore ask you to send the Hungarian government back to the drawing board.

“Madame President, you have endeavoured to travel around Europe to physically deliver the Commission’s seals of approval of the national recovery plans.

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“You took pictures with every leader whose plan was rated positively by your services.

“When you go to Budapest, we want you to be able to shake Viktor Orbán’s hand, knowing that his cronies are not rubbing theirs together with glee.”

The letter comes after Viktor Orban was lambasted by his EU counterparts at the latest EU Council Summit over the weekend.

The Hungarian Prime Minister was condemned over a law Hungary passed earlier this month, which bans the dissemination of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change.

The Hungarian law has been strongly criticised by opposition parties at home, rights groups and by many of Hungary’s fellow European Union members. At an EU summit last week, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Hungarian premier Viktor Orban to respect LGBT rights or leave the bloc.

More than half of the EU’s 27 member states have opposed the law.

Mr Orban, who has been Hungary’s prime minister since 2010, has become more conservative and combative in promoting what he says are traditional Christian values from what he sees as excessive Western liberalism.

Before last week’s summit he told reporters the law was aimed at guaranteeing parents’ right to decide on their children’s sexual education.

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