European Union deadline for Hungary anti-corruption reforms extended

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An EU deadline for Hungary to show it has implemented anti-corruption reforms in order to unlock funds from the bloc has been extended to December 19, diplomats said on Wednesday.

The decision has to be officially adopted by EU member states.

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The member states originally had until October 18 to determine that Budapest had made the changes to receive 7.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) in EU financing, or to extend the deadline by two months.

Hungary’s economy is faltering, with soaring inflation and a sinking currency, leaving it in need of the EU money.

The EU’s budget commissioner, Johannes Hahn, has said the measures proposed by Hungary to reduce graft appeared “in principle” to be sufficient, if correctly applied.

The Hungarian government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban introduced 17 measures to address corruption concerns raised by Brussels.

They include the creation of an independent authority to better oversee spending of EU money, giving citizens an avenue to take to court allegations that prosecutors were burying corruption probes, and boosting transparency of the legislative process.

The European Commission, tasked with protecting the EU’s treaties and spending of EU money, in April triggered a procedure against Hungary that could lead to a suspension of payments over rule of law breaches.

It highlighted irregularities in the way public tenders were awarded, and the unusual number of solitary bids for those contracts, as well as poor oversight of conflicts of interest and bad follow-through on legal action in suspected fraud cases.

In September, the commission suggested that the European Council representing the EU member states suspend 65 percent of financing Hungary was to receive from three programs, amounting to 7.5 billion euros.

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