In 2020, at the height of the Covid crisis, the EU embarked on a new path. It extensively borrowed money at capital markets and handed it out to member states. After two years of implementation, it is now possible to make some preliminary conclusions about how that money is being spent.
Reading the reports and listening to the hearings in the European Parliament, it becomes abundantly clear that most of it has very little to do with European policies. Rather, spending goes into mundane national budgetary expenditures that may be useful as such but have little genuine European value and little transformational potential. In a time with pressing common European needs, this is not how it should be. Continue reading >>
The battle over the rule of law in Hungary is coming to a head. Two separate but related dossiers landed on the EU Council’s agenda on Tuesday, 6 December: firstly, whether to suspend 7.5 billion Euros in funds under the EU’s cohesion policy under the new rule of law conditionality mechanism; and secondly, whether to approve the Hungarian national recovery and resilience plan. Both files are currently stuck in a political limbo as the member states cannot agree on a common course of action, complicated by the fact that Orbán is holding his veto over Brussel’s head on an aid package for Ukraine and a global corporate tax, both of which require unanimity in the Council. Now the question is: Who will move first, Orbán or the other member states? Continue reading >>
On 30 November 2022, the European Commission took two important decisions to protect the EU budget against possible breaches of the rule of law in Hungary. First, the Commission concluded that the conditions for applying the Conditionality mechanism in Hungary remain and Hungary needs to take further and more credible action to eliminate the remaining risks for the EU budget. Second, the Commission has assessed Hungary’s Recovery and Resilience Plan and froze the disbursement of the RRF until the full and effective implementation of 27 ”super milestones” has taken place. Unfortunately, with these measures, missed opportunity to reclaim the importance of competition law in the Rechtsstaat. Continue reading >>