BRUSSELS, Feb 8 (Reuters) – The European Union’s executive
has told Hungary to reform its public procurement laws to curb
systemic fraud before billions of euros from the EU pandemic
recovery fund become available, according to an internal
document seen by Reuters.
The European Commission is mandated with managing the
750-billion-euro scheme and has already told several EU states
their proposals for spending their part of the funds must be
The bloc wants outright changes to Hungary’s public
procurement laws, according to the Jan. 26 Commission document
laying out specific legal changes required of Prime Minister
Viktor Orban’s government.
There was no immediate response from the Hungarian
government to an emailed request for comment on the document.
“Competition in public procurement is insufficient in
practice,” said the document, adding that that was linked to
“systemic irregularities” that “led to the highest financial
correction in the history of (EU) structural funds in 2019”.
The document called specifically for improved data
transparency and accessibility, arguing that that would lead to
a fairer and more open procurement process.
Hungary had irregularities in nearly 4% of its spending of
EU funds in 2015-2019, according to a report last year by the
bloc’s anti-fraud body OLAF, compared to the EU average of 0.36%
and much worse than the second-poorest score of 0.53% for
The Commission document listed necessary legal changes to
introduce more transparency, real competition between bidders
and accountability in Hungarian public procurement to avoid
fraud and the need to recuperate misspent aid.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Mark John and Jon