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Planned Cuts to EU Cohesion Funds ‘Unacceptable’, says Justice Minister Varga

MTI-Hungary Today 2019.11.15.

Hungary regards planned cuts to European Union cohesion funding as “unacceptable”, Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Thursday.

Varga told MTI by phone from the Hague that if countries in a less strong position were helped to advance, a more successful European economy would result.

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The system of cohesion funding provides mutual benefits, she added. Net contributors should recognise and understand those benefits and retain a strong cohesion policy in their own interests, she insisted.

The minister said “reading behind the figures, in proportion with to GNI, Hungary bears more burdens than several net contributors”.

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Concerning plans to tie cohesion funds to the rule of law in recipient countries, Varga said the EU had a number of tools to ensure fiscal discipline in disbursing those funds.

Varga had talks with Ferdinand Grapperhaus, her Dutch counterpart, as well as Foreign Minister Stef Blok, and pointed to “huge geographic discrepancies” in cohesion funding. New member states “have so far received only 5 percent of the budget”, she said, calling for that percentage to be increased. “It is important that the economic gap is prevented from widening any further and there is an equilibrium between member states,” she said.

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The sides agreed that issues around the rule of law “should be given more legal analysis and less political focus”, and should be discussed in the council of European justice ministers, Varga said.

Hungary will not support a rule-of-law mechanism “which could lose its intergovernmental nature and provide the European Commission with another tool to apply political pressure,” she added.

Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI