Application for border area funding under the European Union’s Interreg scheme is set to open early next year after the European Commission’s recent approval of the development plans, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said on Monday. The Interreg project helps fund developments along 2,215 km of border sections across seven countries and 19 counties in the central and eastern European region, Szijjártó said on Facebook, highlighting the importance of the programme for Hungary. Hungary cooperates with Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine as part of the programme, Szijjártó said, noting that this meant that around half of the ethnic Hungarian population beyond the border was impacted by it. Despite its smaller budget, Interreg plays an important role in the development of border areas and in maintaining good neighbourly relations between Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine, he added. With Hungary again being in charge of the project, it submitted the programme plan for the next seven years to the EC in April this year, which was approved this month, the minister said. This means that together with Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine, Hungary can allocate around 60 million euros to various border region development projects until the end of 2029, Szijjártó said. The Hungarian-led scheme is the first among such initiatives whose beneficiaries include Ukraine, he said, adding that “this is perhaps what says the most about Hungary’s neighbourhood policy”.