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Hungary, Romania to launch joint development scheme

Hungary and Romania are launching a joint economic development scheme with a view to enabling Romania to benefit from auto industry investments in eastern Hungary, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Oradea (Nagyvarad) on Tuesday.

A significant share of investments in the electric vehicle industry are carried out in eastern Hungary, which is good news for those living on the Romanian side of the border, including ethnic Hungarians, Szijjarto told a business conference, according to a ministry statement.

“We would like Romania’s Bihor, Arad, Satu Mare and Salaj counties, as well as those living there to benefit from the major investment success stories in eastern Hungary,” the minister said.

To this end, Hungary and Romania are launching a joint programme to promote the cross-border development of supply chains, he said.

Szijjarto said the development of bilateral economic cooperation was of strategic interest, and welcomed that bilateral trade turnover increased by 29 percent to a record 12 billion euros last year.

Romania is Hungary’s third biggest export market, he said, adding that Romanian imports also reached a new record in 2022.

Because the policy for Hungarians beyond the border lies at the heart of Hungarian foreign policy, support for ethnic Hungarian communities will remain key in the future, Szijjarto said.

Hungary will continue its economic development programme in Transylvania which has so far yielded 174 billion forints (EUR 467.1m) worth of investments with 88.5 billion forints in government support, he said.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said that despite recent challenges such as the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed by Brussels in response, Hungary had emerged stronger from every crisis.

And the Hungarian economy did not just survive the recent difficult period, but saw record investments, exports and employment in 2022, he said.

Szijjarto later on Tuesday opened the next seven-year period of the European Union’s Interreg scheme in Oradea, saying that 100 percent of the EU funding was available for the development projects in Hungary and Romania’s border region.

The Interreg budget for cross-border developments in Hungary and Romania will be 56 billion forints between 2021 and 2027, he said. These developments, he noted, will cover the areas of cultural heritage protection, tourism, nature conservation, disaster management, education and health care.

The first round of applicants will be able to bid for 43 million euros in support, he said, adding that the first winners will be decided later this month.

Szijjarto said bilateral ties between Hungary and Romania were a “success story”, adding, at the same time, that even more resources would be freed up when Romania joints the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone.

The minister criticised the “false arguments” on the basis of which Romania’s Schengen membership was vetoed, saying Hungary “knows perfectly well that there is no migration risk from the direction of Romania, because Romania protects its own borders”.

He called on the European Commission to re-submit the proposal of Romania’s Schengen entry to the European Council, and on member states that had blocked Romania’s membership last time to waive their veto.

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