The European Union lifted on Friday a heavy financial penalty on Hungary after the country took steps to put its public finances in order.
EU finance ministers agreed to unfreeze 495 million euros ($620 million) in funds earmarked for Budapest next year after concluding that Budapest "has taken measures to correct its excessive government deficit by 2012," a statement said.
Brussels blocked the so-called "cohesion" funds in March as part of new efforts to clamp down on countries that fail to fix runaway deficits and debts. Such funds help less wealthy EU states build up their infrastructures.
But the executive European Commission recommended last month that the EU lift the sanction, concluding that Hungary was acting to slash its budget shortfall.
The commission said it expected Hungary to reach a 2012 budget deficit target of 2.5 percent of gross domestic product and a 2013 budget deficit well below 3.0 percent.