CSV MEP Frank Engel said that EU funds for Hungary and other countries should be conditional on joining the public prosecution service
The Luxembourg MEP Frank Engel said that Hungary should be “obliged to join a newly created EU prosecution service if it wanted to continue to receive EU funds.”
The Guardian reported on 12 February that a European parliamentary committee had called for more scrutiny of EU funds spent in Hungary.
Its members are concerned that supporters of Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán could use the EU as a “cash register.”
Hungary is to receive €25bn from the EU from 2014-2021, making it one of the largest per-capita beneficiaries of European economic development funds.
Ingeborg Grässle, a German centre-right MEP who heads the European parliament’s budgetary control committee, discovered that 36% of tenders for public projects had only one bidder.
Poland and Croatia had an even higher proportion of single-bids for public money at 45%, which the MEPs considered unusually high, she said. “Rules seem to be respected, but at the same time they … avoid competition,” she said in emailed comments to The Guardian.
In Hungary, the anti-fraud office Olaf found serious irregularities in the awarding of street-lighting contracts to a company owned by Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz, which were 50% more expensive than market prices. Other investigations concerned the building of a new metro line in Budapest.
MEP Engel (CSV) said to The Guardian: “Getting public contracts now in Hungary is a matter of friendship and not a matter of merit.” While “not technically materially illegal, where else in the European Union would you have a system where public contracts of significant size go to family members of the head of government?” he said. “I don’t think that happens anywhere else.”