Budapest’s mayor, Gergely Karácsony, has called on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to consult all associations of local councils on the use of the European Union’s pandemic recovery fund before submitting Hungary’s plans to the EU. In an open letter posted on Facebook, Karácsony said local councils were ready to cooperate with the government to ensure that EU funding would “truly help those it was intended to help: Hungarian people and companies.” Karácsony noted that the European Parliament has obliged governments to consult local authorities on the use of the recovery funds.
Consulting local authorities is also vital to implementing many of the EU’s goals such as digitalisation and green development, he said. Local councils are key to solving local crises, he added.
Meanwhile, he called on the government to change its practices concerning how EU funds are used. In the past decade, Hungary had jumped to the top of the EU anti-fraud body OLAF’s “shame list”, he insisted. Monies allocated to the government’s plan to protect the economy had been largely spent on goals “that have nothing to do with the protection of the economy or with preserving jobs,” he said.
Karácsony cited Balázs Orbán, a state secretary, as saying earlier that the government had consulted with 15,000 experts and several local authority organisations but three local council organisations and several mayors he had asked had no knowledge of such talks. He called on Orbán to publish the list of experts and organisations, and the date and outcome of the talks. “I’d like to believe the government hasn’t fallen into its old trap of consulting with government-friendly mayors exclusively. That would strengthen the impression that it is splitting the country into first-class and second-class citizens and localities, and that would be unacceptable,” Karácsony said.