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Nov 15, 2019

Justice minister highlights “huge geographic discrepancies” in cohesion funding

The justice minister has highlighted how Hungary regards planned cuts to European Union cohesion funding as “unacceptable”.

The justice minister has highlighted how Hungary regards planned cuts to European Union cohesion funding as “unacceptable”.

Following meetings in the Hague, Judit Varga said that if countries in a less strong position were helped to advance, a more successful European economy would result.

The minister added that the system of cohesion funding provides mutual benefits. Net contributors should recognize and understand those benefits and retain a strong cohesion policy in their own interests, she insisted.

According to MTI, the minister said “reading behind the figures, in proportion to GNI, Hungary bears more burdens than several net contributors”.

Concerning plans to tie cohesion funds to the rule of law in recipient countries, Minister Varga said the EU had a number of tools to ensure fiscal discipline in disbursing those funds.

The minister pointed to “huge geographic discrepancies” in cohesion funding. New member states “have so far received only 5 percent of the budget”, she said, calling for that percentage to be increased. “It is important that the economic gap is prevented from widening any further and there is an equilibrium between member states,” she said.

During talks with Ferdinand Grapperhaus, her Dutch counterpart, and Foreign Minister Stef Blok, the sides agreed that issues around the rule of law “should be given more legal analysis and less political focus”, and should be discussed in the council of European justice ministers.

The minister added that Hungary will not support a rule-of-law mechanism “which could lose its intergovernmental nature and provide the European Commission with another tool to apply political pressure.”

Photo credit: Magyar Nemzet