Photo: MTI

Budapest mayor calls for public discourse on use of EU recovery funds

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony on Thursday called for public debate on the plans to use the European Union's resilience and recovery funding, saying that the municipality had already drafted a list of projects to start the conversation.

The projects would help Budapest in becoming a flagship of the fight against climate change, also helping the government to reach its climate goals, he said. The city would revamp its trolley bus system and make its public services climate neutral, he added.

The project list will be finalised in the coming days and sent to the government “as soon as the opportunity for public debate presents itself,” he said. “The dialogue is so far unilateral,” he said.

Budapest has lobbied very successfully for funds from the EU, he said. Should the government resolve its conflicts in Brussels, the city would receive some 200 billion forints (EUR 530m) in funding, he added.

The government needs open consultation because that would give them the best chance for the EU approval, he said.

Benedek Javor, who leads the Parbeszed-Greens’ list of candidates in next year’s European parliamentary elections, noted that Hungary’s government originally opposed plans of member states taking out a joint loan to finance the EU’s Resilience and Recovery Facility (RRF). The government only submitted plans for the subsidy branch of RRF, some 2,200-2,500 billion forints. Then it “signalled in the very last moment” that it would also apply for funds from the loan, he said. Currently, the country is looking to take out a 3,000 billion forint loan, he added.

The plans to use those resources should be submitted to the EU by August 31. “Currently, we know nothing of the government’s plan on spending those funds,” Javor said.

The Government Information Centre (KTK) said in response that the government had discussed EU funding with the mayor “several times”, at several personal meetings with Regional Development Minister Tibor Navracsics. “Despite having inherited 200 billion forints in reserves and growing corporate tax revenues, the mayor has pushed the richest municipality of the country to the brink of bankruptcy in 3 years,” the statement said. “Now, he wants to have the government pay the price of his incompetence,” it added.

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