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corruption; rule of law; European Commission; EU funds; Orbán government; Tibor Navracsics; law amendment proposal;

2022-09-19 21:00:00

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In order to reach an EU agreement, the government submitted the first amendments to the law on Monday evening.

On Monday evening, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén submitted several proposals to amend the law on behalf of the government in order to reach an agreement with the European Commission, thus gaining access to EU funds.

The first part is about cooperation with the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, public procurement, and public interest trust foundations performing public tasks. Based on the ten-page draft, in the future NAV will provide fiscal support for the conduct of on-site inspections or investigations based on OLAF’s request. In the future, the state, all ministries, central procurement bodies, budgetary bodies, all local and ethnic municipalities and associations of local governments, development councils, organizations established by the Parliament or the government for public interest activities, and public interest trust foundations performing public tasks will be obliged to conduct public procurement procedures in the future. and the legal entity established or maintained by them.

In the case of the latter, i.e. public interest trust foundations, the supreme body and its supervisory board chairpersons, members, and employees must comply with the conflict of interest rules: anyone who, due to economic, personal, family, emotional, political reasons or nationality, is also limited in his ability to carry out his duties impartially, must refrain from any activity that brings wealth to the foundation or its organizations. That is

On the other hand, it is not clear from the draft exactly on what basis emotional or political affiliation can be decided, what emotional level can be a disqualifying reason, and whether the conflict of interest will only be based on self-declaration in the future.

Miklós Ligeti, legal director of Transparency International, told our paper about the government’s commitments to the European Commission even before the submission of the bill. He then continued: today, groups that are friendly to the authorities are in such a position that they can make the best or, in some cases, the only acceptable offer for EU public procurements even without any influence from above.

Of course, this will not eliminate the latter, but its volume will be less spectacular, and it will be enough for everyone to fly under the radar, he added.

On Sunday, the European Commission proposed withdrawing HUF 3,000 billion in EU aid due to corruption in Hungary, but Orbán was given two months to fulfill the promises made to Brussels in the rule of law procedure. According to Tibor Navracsics, the Hungarian government has made 17 commitments to the EU, including, for example, the establishment of the Integrity Authority to monitor public procurement, the Anti-Corruption Working Group to be established with the participation of civilians, the reduction of the proportion of single-stage public procurement, and the extension of conflict of interest rules to public interest trust foundations.

said Miklós Ligeti. – For example, it would be great if the head of the Integrity Authority to be set up would be decided on through an open tender, but as long as all other positions are occupied by people loyal to the government, there is little chance that this will mean a real change. The legal director of TI had the same opinion about the future amendment of the Information Act and the removal of cost elements related to data requests, which, according to him, will not return the government to full transparency, but only to the state of 2015-16.

Vera Jourova, the Czech Commissioner responsible for EU values ​​and transparency of the European Commission, on Monday called the criticisms that they had negotiated with the Hungarian government absurd and that Hungary could obtain the EU funds in the case of the appropriate legislative proposals. (Tibor Navracsics previously spoke about the fact that if Hungary fulfills its commitments, new conditions can no longer be imposed on it). Jourova indicated that the Hungarian government made many promises to the European Commission not to withdraw EU funds from Hungary, she was personally surprised by “how far they went with their concessions”, but according to her, if “the Commission sees new problems in Hungary, it can restart in the future the mechanism”.

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