Hungary adopted a Judicial Reform to gain access to Suspended EU FundsEU | May 4, 2023, Thursday // 09:06| views
The Hungarian parliament adopted on Wednesday a legal amendment aimed at strengthening the independence of the judicial system, at the suggestion of the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, DPA reported.
The law aims to clear the way for the release of EU funds. Brussels has currently suspended funding as it accuses Hungary of corruption and violating the rule of law.
The Central European country has been a member of the EU since 2004. Orban came to power in 2010 and his rule was marked by a transition to authoritarianism, DPA points out.
The amendment adopted yesterday aims to allow the release of €13.2 billion of EU cohesion funds through a series of measures.
The law restores most of the powers to the independent National Judicial Council, which it lost to the government-backed National Judicial Service as a result of previous reforms.
It is also planned to restore the power of judges to turn to the Court of Justice of the European Union when they have doubts about the legality of court decisions affecting European law. Orban's government had taken away this power.
AFP recalls that in December the European Commission froze almost 22 billion euros of cohesion funds for Hungary for the period 2021-2027, saying that Budapest does not meet European standards for the rule of law.
"Parliament adopted amendments to Hungarian justice laws in line with the agreement with the European Commission," government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs wrote on Twitter.
"Hungary has already fulfilled its commitments regarding the administration of justice," Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Facebook. "We expect Brussels to pay the European funds owed to Hungary," she added.
The European Commission also withheld Hungary's access to €5.8 billion in pandemic recovery funds.
Brussels has long been concerned about the potential misuse of EU funds and corruption in the country and has imposed a strict roadmap consisting of 27 measures.
Further reforms are needed to unlock the remaining frozen EU funds.
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