Budapest will indeed receive EU funding, everyone agrees

Portfolio
Local media reported on Monday morning that Budapest cannot expect any European Union funding between 2021 and 2027, as the cabinet intends to bleed the municipality dry. The government was reportedly bent on taking revenge after Gergely Karácsony, the joint candidate of the left-liberal opposition parties, beat government-friendly mayor István Tarlós who was Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's candidate in the municipal election in October 2019. By Tuesday, it has turned out that it's not going to happen, and all parties involved openly reaffirmed this.
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On Monday morning, local daily newspaper Népszava claimed representatives of the Hungarian government had presented a document by the Ministry for Innovation and Technology in Brussels in mid-December, essentially showing that Budapest should not expect to receive EU funds between 2021 and 2027, becaues the document mentioned such funding for the capital city only on the fringes. 

A few hours later, László Palkovics, Minister for Innovation and Technology, told broadcaster ATV he has no clue what document the paper was referring to and that it must have been only a draft. He stressed that

it is impossible that Budapest as the capital city of Hungary will not receive EU development funds in the 2021-2027 period.

Early in the evening, ATV said officials have already found the cited presentation, but the chart on its 8th page does show Budapest as one of the priorities. 

In a flash analysis published in the afternoon Portfolio also said that due to its relative overdevelopment Budapest should indeed not expect massive EU funds in the next programming period, but it is definitely a false conclusion that it will not be entiled to any EU money. Public transport, climate protection/energy efficiency projects will definitely be funded. 

These conclusions were confirmed yesterday afternoon by Balázs Fürjes, state secretary in charge of Budapest issues, saying government decrees for the next fiscal cycle have already been adopted.

Portfolio has learned that the cited presentation was shown in a video conference by Hungarian officials in mid-December, who were testing the waters, wanting to find out what the European Commission thinks about the floated ideas.  

There's nothing extraordinary about this. Such practices are part of a lengthy and complex bargaining strategy. These "tests" help the government take decisions in Janurary about the main directions of the use of EU funds in the 2021-2027 period, and submit the first draft of the Partnership Agreement (containing these directions) to Brussels. 

Mayor Gergely Karácsony fumed over the press report in a Facebook post, saying such a stance from the government's part was vile and damaging. Later he told ATV he had also seen the document in question but he had not considered it important because Budapest was listed as one of the recepients of EU funds. 

He said he deems this ministry presentation nothing but just one of many working materials, and that it was time for a serious discussion between the cabinet and the municipality about how EU funds will be distributed.

"The government has not made any kind of decision concerning the utilisation of funding during the European Union’s upcoming seven-year multiannual financial framework, mostly in view of the fact that there is no agreement on the 2021-2027 joint budget as yet, and the positions of the European Commission and member states remain far apart," the ministry said in a statement late on Monday.

Cover photo by MTI/Zoltán Balogh 

This article is part of the work programme titled "The impacts of EU cohesion policy in Hungary - Present and Future" which is carried out by Net Média Zrt., the publisher of Portfolio.hu, between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020 with European Union financing. The views in this article solely reflect the opinions of the author. The European Commission as the funding entity does not take any responsibility for the use of information presented in this article.

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