On Wednesday, Budgets and Budgetary Control Committee MEPs will quiz commissioners Hahn, Reynders and Schmit about the partial release of previously frozen funds to Hungary.
MEPs will question commissioners Johannes Hahn (Budget and Administration), Didier Reynders (Justice), and Nicolas Schmit (Jobs and Social Rights) about the application of the EU’s Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation and Hungary's access to cohesion funds. The debate will be led by rapporteurs Petri SARVAMAA (EPP, FI) and Eider GARDIAZABAL RUBIAL (S&D, ES), who negotiated the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation on behalf of Parliament with the Council.
The debate takes place after the European Parliament adopted a resolution in January, criticising the Commission’s decision to release up to €10.2 billion of previously frozen funds, despite Hungary not fulfilling the demanded reforms for judicial independence. Parliament had also warned that it would look into whether legal action should be pursued to overturn the Commission’s decision.
The 2021 Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation enables the European Commission to withhold EU funds from a member state if violations of rule of law principles threaten or risk jeopardising the sound management of the EU's budget or the protection of its financial interests. Consequently, 55% of budgetary commitments (approximately EUR 6.3 billion) in EU cohesion funding for Hungary are currently frozen. In addition, EUR 10.4 billion for Hungary remain blocked under the Recovery and Resilience Fund (RRF) as the country has not fulfilled various super-milestones.
In December 2023, the Commission recognised Hungary's judicial reforms as meeting the fundamental requirement of judicial independence under the Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, other concerns remain unaddressed. Following this assessment, Hungary has been able to request reimbursement of EUR 10.2 billion from the roughly EUR 22 billion allocated in Cohesion funds for the country.