Concluding the 2007-2013 European Union budgeting cycle without losing any community funding is a top priority for the Hungarian government, cabinet chief János Lázár said. Speaking at a conference, Lázár said that the government had succeeded in increasing the uptake of community funds for development projects from 1,000 billion forints (EUR 3.3bn) in 2012, to 1,700 billion in 2013, and to 1,840 billion last year.The minister said that the funds Hungary receives from European coffers in the 2014-2020 cycle should be focused on improving the country’s competitiveness.
The goal is to “make Hungary the strongest, most competitive economy in central Europe”, he said, adding that it is “necessary and possible” to adjust European rules to Hungarian needs. Lázár also called for less bureaucracy to increase competitiveness, and said that a new public procurement law, expected to be passed in the second half of the year, would also improve the business environment. The cabinet chief called the earlier mechanism whereby responsibility for distributing EU funds was handed to an agency in Hungary “mistaken” and said the system belonged under full government control.
The Cabinet Chief gave an interview to the public radio on Friday morning. János Lázár was also asked about the topic of Paks upgrade on Kossuth Radio’s “180 Minutes” programme, following the publication of an article in the Financial Times yesterday claiming that the European Union had stopped the execution of the 12 billion euro agreement concluded with Russia on the expansion and modernisation of the Paks nuclear power plant.
Negotiations are ongoing between the EU and the Government of Hungary concerning the dispute surrounding the supplying of fuel to the proposed Paks 2 nuclear power plant expansion, Lázár said. “We are preparing a satisfactory solution that will guarantee Hungary’s secure fuel supply and enable the Russians to also supply fuel. It is not in the EU’s interests to block the Paks project. Hungary needs atomic energy to combat environmental pollution and because it requires cheap energy”, Lázár insisted.
via hungarymatters.hu and kormany.hu; photo: Tibor Illyés – MTI