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Guardian: EU set to unlock part of frozen funds for Hungary

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 8, 2023 8:47 PM 2 min read
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives at EU Leaders Summit on Oct. 26, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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The European Commission is expected to unlock 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) in frozen funds for Hungary, the Guardian reported on Dec. 8, citing anonymous diplomatic sources.

The funds, which constitute about a third of Hungary's total suspended funding, will likely be released on Dec. 12, according to the media outlet.

The Guardian’s report comes while Hungary is ramping up its opposition to the EU's further support for Ukraine, including a $53 billion funding package for Ukraine's recovery.

Sources told the Guardian the alleged release of Hungary's funds was unrelated to the "blackmailing" of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has threatened to block Ukraine's accession to the EU.

"The timing is unfortunate because it looks like horsetrading, but it is not," one diplomat said.

The EU's executive body has frozen the total sum of around 22 billion euros allocated for Hungary's economic development over fears of democratic backsliding and rule-of-law issues.

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According to the Guardian's sources, the European Commission decided to unlock the $10.7 billion since Budapest has completed necessary judicial reforms. The remaining funds will reportedly remain blocked due to a lack of compliance with other rule-of-law criteria.

At the same time, Hungarian civil society representatives and some of the country's lawmakers have argued that Budapest has not actually fully completed the reforms, the media outlet added.

Some two weeks earlier, the EU approved $980 million in advance payments for Hungary from frozen recovery funds.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Hungary has repeatedly obstructed EU support for Kyiv, opposed sanctions against Russia, and now threatens to thwart Ukraine's EU aspirations.

Orban, who maintains close ties with the Kremlin, has refused to provide military aid to Ukraine and claimed that Kyiv's counteroffensive was destined to fail.

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