EU still assessing Hungary’s pandemic plan to unlock funds

U.S. & World

FILE – In this Friday, April 6, 2018 file photo, Prime Minister Viktor Orban waves during the final electoral rally of his Fidesz party in Szekesfehervar, Hungary. After a landslide 2018 election victory, Orban talks about Hungary’s “system of national cooperation,” a process that has hobbled the court system, re-written the constitution and given immense power to himself and his party. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s executive is working past a Monday deadline to assess Hungary pandemic recovery plan and unlock EU grants and loans amid allegations it might not to meet all the requirements to tap into the funds.

EU Commission spokeswoman Arianna Podesta said that the Commission was still analyzing replies its received last Friday and might take as much as weeks to process.

“We are working constructively to conclude our assessment as fast as possible. Should our assessment require more weeks rather than days, we will propose to Hungary to agree on an extension of the 2-month deadline.”

Even when EU nations get the green light from the bloc’s executive arm to obtain the billions in funds, they will steel need the approval of other member states too. Critics have said that corruption safeguards might be insufficient in the Hungarian plan.

The delay comes against a background of increasing strife between several of the EU institutions and Budapest, with Brussels claiming there is a rollback in the nation’s democratic credentials while corruption runs rampant.

The EU has said it would grant extensions on the national recovery plans to ensure workable and precise plans rather than blueprints not properly vetted for lack to time. So far, 5 members requested extensions — Poland, Estonia, Romania, Sweden and Finland. These range from a few weeks to the end of September.

During the assessment period, EU authorities are locked in dialogue with the country concerned and can send observations or ask questions. The country can provide information or adjust its plan as things progress.

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