The Hungarian government “has every chance” of signing the partnership agreements with the European Commission before the end of the year, Tibor Navracsics, the regional development minister, said on Tuesday. The agreements are necessary for the country to access cohesion and recovery funding from the EU. Speaking at a meeting of local mayors and public notaries, Navracsics said the negotiations were on schedule and the EC could make relevant decisions in the second half of November, paving the way for Hungary to access the funds next year. The Hungarian government expects to receive up to 561 billion forints (EUR 1.4bn) next year, 747 billion forints in 2024, and 1,047 billion forints in 2025, the minister said.
Navracsics noted that including co-financing, Hungary is entitled to around 14,000 billion forints in the 2021-2027 funding cycle. Fully 10,000 billion forints of it will go towards regional development and 4,000 billion towards rural development operative programmes, he added. The post-pandemic recovery fund is worth a total of 6,000 billion forints, he said, adding that with the signing of the partnership agreement, Hungary could be given access to the first instalments of the funds next year.
“Our ambitions are also supported by the fact that Hungary has traditionally been among the best when it comes to the efficiency of the utilisation of EU funds,” the minister said, noting that this was also true for the 2014-2020 funding cycle in which Hungary had used up 80% of the funds it is entitled to compared with the EU average of 71%. Navracsics said Hungary aimed to utilise its own and the EU funds to be among the five most liveable countries in the bloc by 2030. The funds serve to develop the economy and infrastructure, improve competitiveness and support the green and digital transitions, he added.
Concerning regional development, the minister said the government is working on the institutional system and policy concepts that will define its regional development policy over the coming years. Meanwhile, he said that because the gap between the capital and the rest of the country in terms of GDP per capita was still big, the urban and rural parts of the country needed different types of regional development policies. Though Budapest and the country’s rural regions “aren’t in the same league”, the capital “doesn’t have it that easy either” because it has to compete with the likes of Prague, Vienna, Bratislava and Warsaw, Navracsics said. He highlighted the importance of creating regional hubs that could ease the burden on Budapest and play a positive role in the country’s economic and regional development.