Budapest, Hungary – Prime Minister Viktor Orban has asked the European Commission to unblock all EU funds allocated to Hungary to help the country manage the Ukrainian refugee crisis, Reuters reported earlier this week.
In a letter addressed to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Orban asked the EU to disburse the loans allocated to Hungary under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).
The RRF was set up by the EU as a €724 billion-fund to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and a tool to reboot the economies of the 27 member states. The biggest pillar of the so-called Next Generation EU (NGEU) plan, it came into force in February 2021.
In his letter to von der Leyen, Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban called for “shared responsibility” and said Hungary needed “immediate and effective access” to the EU loans to handle the crisis at its border caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The EU has been withholding pandemic recovery funds allocated to Hungary and Poland over a long-running dispute on democratic backsliding in the two Central European nations.
Last month, Budapest and Warsaw lost their court challenge in front of the European Court of Justice. The bloc’s top court ruled in favour of an EU rule allowing funding to be conditioned to the respect of basic democratic principles, arguing funds could be mismanaged by corruption, lack of transparency and rule of law breaches.
Almost half a million people have crossed the 135-km-long border into Hungary since the start of the war one month ago. Hungarian authorities said the country was prepared to accept up to 900,000 refugees fleeing the conflict.