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EU Climate Strategy Costs Should Be Borne by Biggest Polluters, says Finance Minister

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.01.22.

One of the most important aspects when devising the European Union’s climate strategy is that it must not impose disproportionate costs and burdens on any member state, Finance Minister Mihály Varga told an Ecofin meeting on Tuesday.

Hungary agrees with the EU’s climate goals but it must be made clear that they must not lead to increases in energy and food prices and consumers should not be made to bear its additional costs, the Finance Ministry quoted Varga as saying in a debate on the European Green Deal.

The minister highlighted the role of the EU’s new Just Transition Fund in ensuring that disadvantaged regions are given sufficient help in transitioning to carbon neutrality.

He criticised the European Commission’s proposed allocation of funds to member states under which Hungary stands to receive only 1.2 percent of the funding available. Varga said the EU should work out a customised incentive scheme for each member state when it comes to transitioning to clean energy, arguing that they all had different energy mixes. Hungary, for instance, would substitute its coal-fired power plants with the use of natural gas, he said.

The EU should place greater emphasis on the individual characteristics of member states, Varga said, pointing out that since the majority of Hungarians own their homes, the funding the bloc plans to give to businesses would be of little help when it comes to improving the energy efficiency of homes.

Concerning the taxation of the digital economy, Varga told the council that it was important that digital businesses could be taxed as if they operated with a traditional business model.

In the featured photo illustration: Finance Minister Mihály Varga. Photo by Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI