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Government to Punish Budapest for Local Election Results?

Hungary Today 2020.01.14.

After their local election defeat, the government wants to punish Budapest by not allocating money for the capital in the next EU funding period, leftist daily Népszava writes, referencing government documents. The government denies any allegations, calling it fake news.  Meanwhile, economic news portal Portfolio states that Budapest receiving structural and investment funds were unlikely in the first place as the capital is the most developed region in Hungary with 139% of the EU average.

Leftist daily Népszava received a presentation created by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, showing how Hungary plans to use the support for the operational programs of the next EU funding period between 2021-2027.

The paper states, Budapest would be the most negatively affected by this scheme: if the Commission accepts the government’s proposal, the Hungarian capital could be left without EU development funds in the indicated term.

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According to Benedek Jávor, MEP of opposition Párbeszéd (Dialogue) party, and the head of the Budapest representation in Brussels, this is clearly political revenge for the local election result: if there are no programs specifically targeted at the capital, then Budapest could lose all its EU funds.

Budapest accounts for 40% of the country’s GDP. If the capital is deprived of development money, the economy of the entire country will be damaged, he said.

It is only a plan – the government and the European Commission are far from reaching an agreement, he added. The MEP and his team will send their comments to the Commission, indicating that the government-backed support scheme is unsustainable and ask Brussels decision-makers to reject it on a professional basis.

The Secretary of State for the Development of Budapest and the Agglomeration called the news about the government withdrawing EU funds from Budapest in the next financing period fake news.

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Responding to Népszava’s article, Balázs Fürjes said no such proposal existed, nor any decision had been made.

No government in the EU could decide on the allocation of its own national financial resources, he added. Thanks to the Orbán government, between 2010 and 2020, significant amounts of EU funds were transferred to Budapest, primarily to improve the Hungarian capital’s transportation system. The government has always been and remains committed to the development of Budapest, Fürjes emphasized.

When the new political leadership of Budapest took its mandate, the government made it clear: we want to cooperate, expecting a fair partnership. “Budapest cannot be a battlefield, that is not in the interest of the people of Budapest,” the state secretary said.

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Economic news portal Portfolio, citing numerous government sources, also emphasized that although Népszava writes about the withdrawal of EU funds almost as fact, the concerning decisions have not yet been made.

There is no final governmental strategy concerning the use and allotment of EU funds between the 2021-2027 time period. This means Government representatives couldn’t have shown any presentation last December, the portal says.

Portfolio also points out that Budapest cannot expect any significant funds for re-development in the next EU term. The reason is simple, according to the 2017 data, Budapest was developed at 139% compared to the EU average, with 104% if we also include Pest County and 53% if we only count Pest County alone.

Budapest will also become a standalone region in the next EU term. Due to its relative overdevelopment, it wouldn’t get substantial catching up funds from the EU budget anyway. However, this means enormous opportunities for Pest County, and that is the main reason for the county’s administrative separation from Budapest, Portfolio concludes.

Featured photo by Noémi Bruzák/MTI 

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