Hungarian Parliament passes reform package to unblock EU funds

Budapest, May 4 (IANS) Hungarian lawmakers have passed a judicial reform package required to unblock billions of euros in European Union (EU) funding.

The Hungarian Parliament adopted the legal document with 151 votes in favour and 23 abstentions, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Hungary has now fulfilled its commitments regarding the administration of justice. We expect Brussels to pay the EU funds due to Hungary,” Justice Minister Judit Varga said after the vote.

Hungary lost access to billions of euros of EU cash, from the Recovery and Resilience Facility Fund and Cohesion Fund, due to concerns over corruption and the infringement of the independence of the judiciary.

The newly-adopted reform grants enhanced powers to the judges’ self-governing body, the National Judicial Council (OBT), which from June 1 can comment on all legislative proposals affecting the judiciary.

In addition, the OBT’s legal remedies will be expanded, and the President of the National Court Office (OBH) will be obliged to justify his decisions where the OBT has the right to agree.

In future, the judicial council may personally listen to the presidential candidates of the OBH and the Curia (Hungarian Supreme Court) and exclude those whose independence, impartiality, integrity, or integrity it finds inadequate.

The OBT will have access to all information related to court administration, and will also have its own budget, warranting financial independence.

In line with the EU’s expectations, the authorities will not be able to turn to the Hungarian Constitutional Court to appeal final court decisions.

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