“It took the coronavirus pandemic for everyone to understand that it is wrong to cut public spending on healthcare and education,” they said.Continue reading
Hungary will spend the lion’s share of the European Union’s coronavirus recovery fund on developments in health care, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, told pro-government public broadcaster Kossuth Rádió on Sunday.
Gulyás noted that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had talks with European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on Friday. The discussion touched on Hungary’s plans regarding the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, among other topics, he said.
Von der Leyen “has a clear picture of the situation”, and knows that Hungary will use the funds in a transparent manner, he said.
Hungary will be the first to submit its plans for the use of the more than 2,500 billion forints (EUR 6.9bn) it is entitled to from the fund, Gulyás said. The plans will not include the 3,300 billion forint credit line included in the recovery plan, he added.
The government will use the funding to cover its “new healthcare system eliminating gratuity payments”, and to raise the quality of health-care nationwide, he said.
Projects funded with a view to reduce carbon emissions will include the modernisation of track-based transport, the boosting of higher education and the transition to circular economy, he said.
Meanwhile, “Hungary would not want the recovery plan to be sacrificed to the [Budapest] mayor’s prime ministerial ambitions,” Gulyás said. The government is ready to engage with all constructive proposals if there is hope for a compromise with the municipality, he added. However, if the city council takes its objections to the international stage, that will be seen as a sign that they want to “voice their dissent for dissent’s sake” rather than reaching for compromise, Gulyás said.
On another topic, Orbán proposed at the talks that the EU should adopt strategies on handling its relations with Russia and China, Gulyás said.
Cooperation with Russia should be along clear principles, Orbán said, adding, at the same time, that economic cooperation is indispensable, “if for nothing else, for the dearth of diverse energy resources”, he said.
Regarding the ongoing rule of law procedure against Hungary, Gulyás said the “issue was barely touched on”.
“Hungary is a model democracy, we see the rule of law issue as important, but reject attempts to use it as a disguise for political attacks” against anti-migration countries standing up for traditional European values, he said.
On criticism of the vaccination certificates voiced by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), Gulyás said Hungary’s constitution allows endowing certificate holders with special rights if the decision is not arbitrary. Hungary will link the use of certain services to vaccination certificates to protect the health of its citizens, as do a number of EU countries, he said.
featured image via Tamás Kovács/MTI