(Corrects to say European Commission "wants" rather than "has
told" Hungary to change procurement rules)
BRUSSELS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The European Union's executive
wants Hungary to reform its public procurement laws to curb what
it calls "systemic irregularities" 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
There was no immediate response from the Hungarian
government to an emailed request for comment on the document.
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.
"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.
Budapest, which has had a series of battles with EU
authorities over rule of law issues, is due to get nearly 6.3
billion euros in free grants from the recovery scheme if its
spending plan is proposed by an end-of-April deadline, and then
accepted by Brussels and other EU countries.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Mark John and Jon