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Human RightsHungary: EU's Most Corrupt Nation Faces Scrutiny as it Takes the Presidency...

Hungary: EU’s Most Corrupt Nation Faces Scrutiny as it Takes the Presidency of the Council

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Budapest – Hungary remains the European Union’s most corrupt country, according to the 2023 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released last January by Transparency International. Despite some judicial reforms aimed at securing EU funds, systemic corruption continues to undermine Hungary’s governance, raising significant concerns as the country became the new chairing member state Presiding the Council of the EU as of July 1, 2024.

Hungary Reigns in the Lowest Rankings

Hungary found itself at the bottom of the list for the year, in a row among EU member states with a score of 42 points on the Corruption Perceptions Index’s 100 point scale, where 0 represents the highest level and 100 the lowest level of perceived corruption. While the country improved slightly in global rankings, rising from 77th to 76th place among 180 countries, this minor advancement does little to counteract the perception and reality of widespread corruption domestically.

image 2 Hungary: EU's Most Corrupt Nation Faces Scrutiny as it Takes the Presidency of the Council
Hungary: EU's Most Corrupt Nation Faces Scrutiny as it Takes the Presidency of the Council 2

The country report, from Transparency International Hungary, released in Budapest, sheds light on the issue of corruption. While some reforms have been implemented, they are deemed insufficient to restore the rule of law and effectively combat corruption.

Judicial Reforms: A Drop in the Ocean

The government of Hungary has made some changes, to its system, due to the influence of the European Union. The EU linked the allocation of cohesion policy funds to these reforms. In December 2023, €10.2 billion were unlocked by the European Commission as a result of these changes representing the disbursement of EU funds after growing worries about Hungary’s lack of adherence to the rule of law.

However Transparency International Hungary has highlighted that these actions fall short in ensuring autonomy. The authority and capabilities of the established Integrity Authority and Anti Corruption Task Force are deemed inadequate in addressing corruption effectively. The governments efforts, such, as enhancing protections for business secrets and imposing obstacles to accessing public interest data are viewed more as steps, than holistic remedies.

Political Motivations Behind the Scrutiny of Transparency International Hungary

The investigation conducted by the Sovereignty Protection Office (SPO) into Transparency International Hungary has further complicated the issues surrounding corruption and governance, in Hungary. Globally Transparency International has criticized this action believing it to be politically motivated to undermine the NGOs corruption activities. This investigation has sparked worries regarding the security of information, within the NGO putting their vital anti corruption work at risk. Hungarian data protection legislation must align with Article 2(1) and Recital (15) of the GDPR to uphold the supremacy of European law and the regulations within the GDPR. According to rulings from the European Court of Justice, Member States are required to adhere strictly to GDPR provisions without deviation.

Economic and Regional Context

Hungary’s economic situation reflects the challenges it faces with corruption. When looking at GDP per person, Hungary falls behind neighboring countries doing better, than Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania within the EU. In comparison, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia demonstrate performance and anti corruption efforts.

Although Hungary has a rate of investment, this has not led to economic growth. This suggests that the funds may not have been used effectively due to activities related to public procurement. Transparency International Hungary points out that despite some improvements, in reducing single bid tenders, the public procurement system still struggles with influence and lacks market competition.

Hungary’s Role as Chair of the Council of the EU

As Hungary takes over the presidency of the European Commission, these matters become more important. The leadership position of the country raises concerns, about how various EU priorities, those concerning rule of law and corruption efforts, will be addressed. The examination of Hungary’s actions and their harmony, with EU principles is expected to increase.

Hungary’s standing problems with corruption, along with its prominent position in the EU, underscore the pressing importance of real change and responsibility. While some slight enhancements have been noted in the CPI, they are overshadowed by the ongoing battles against deep-rooted corruption, the non and the absence of judicial autonomy. As Hungary takes on a leading role within the European Commission, global observers will be closely monitoring to see if it can effectively address its corruption issues and pave the way, for transparency and governance.

References:

  1. Transparency International. (2024). Transparency International Condemns Hungary Investigation.
  2. AP News. (2024). Hungary Government Investigates Transparency International.
  3. Transparency International. (2024). Corruption Perception Index.
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