Central Europe cannot be left behind in the distribution of EU funds, but the distribution system should be changed in favor of disadvantaged regions, the Minister of Regional Development said on Monday at the Sovereignty Conference organized by the Századvég Center for Public Knowledge Foundation.
In the opinion of Tibor Navracsics, it is a mistake to link Europe’s decline to European integration, as the continent has been declining in importance in world politics and the global economy for much longer. At the same time, there is no doubt that the European Union has “slipped below the United States”, that it is unable to assert an independent foreign policy and that the majority of people living here are now increasingly showing signs of hopelessness.
“The situation is exacerbated by the EU leadership’s mismanagement of challenges and misinterpretation of its own role, not only because it is playing a political role, but also because it is based on uncertain principles,” he stressed.
The Minister added:
“The rule of law, for example, can have many meanings, even differing from country to country, but Brussels imposes a single interpretation, which no member state feels is valid for it.”
Whereas in previous decades the EU sought to settle disputes, today the European Commission presents political expectations as a general criterion, even though it is clear that the majority of Europeans are opposed to the allocation of Community resources along these lines.
If this does not change, European integration could be in serious crisis,
The Minister noted that the withholding of EU funds had stalled the reduction of regional disparities and that deadlines for the delivery of reconstruction funds would certainly no longer be met.
The cohesion gap within the EU appears to be narrowing, but this is mainly due to the central European capitals, developing on their own and making use of the advantages provided by their central location.
The cut-off of EU funds is a loss not primarily for those living in Budapest, for instance, but for those living in rural areas,
Tibor Navracsics pointed out.
He said that centrally controlled support systems would not eliminate disparities within the EU, as the continent is extremely diverse, with great differences in levels of development and the needs of a large city, a declining industrial region or a disadvantaged agricultural region being completely different.
He pointed out that the allocation of resources should be tailored to the interests of all concerned, not to the planning ideals of those “sitting in the center.”
Accordingly, new categories could be added to the administrative-based regional development in Hungary, as many regions can only receive support on a “parceled” basis, not uniformly, based on the current criteria. In addition to regions requiring joint management, municipalities belonging to the same urban area could also receive funding in this way, as this would best serve everyday livability.
He stressed that cohesion policy must be unified at EU level, as Western European applicants receive a much larger share of many grants, particularly in the scientific, research and development framework. The Minister also opposed the idea that southern European economies, suffering from the consequences of the pandemic, should be caught up at the expense of the central European countries.
Via MTI, Featured image: MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd