Karacsony calls for ‘substantial’ consultation on use of EU recovery fund
Hungary is slated to receive 5,472 billion euros of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), set up to offset the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Hungary is expected to submit its plans on using the fund to the EU by the end of April.
Karacsony said on Facebook on Saturday that the Budapest municipality had been “fighting for months” to engage in “meaningful dialogue” with the government on the recovery fund. Such cooperation is also requested under relevant EU regulation, he said.
The government has so far only published a “superficial, empty document a mere 13 pages long … that does not reveal how it plans to spend the funds equivalent to a quarter of Hungary’s annual budget”, Karacsony said.
The Budapest council has already submitted its comments on the document, stating that they did not see it as fulfilling the participation requirement of the EU, Karacsony said.
The municipality is also sending another document to the government, detailing the areas and projects it would support to boost Budapest’s sustainable development, its “green relaunch” and to rehabilitate its social care services which had been “frayed” by the pandemic, Karacsony said.
Balazs Furjes, the state secretary responsible for the development of Budapest and its suburbs, responded in a Facebook post of his own that the government was “flummoxed” by Karacsony’s “unexpected attack”.
Talks on the recovery fund are ongoing, in the spirit of an agreement between Karacsony and the prime minister’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, and continued this past week with Deputy Mayor Ambrus Kiss while the mayor was in quarantine, Furjes said.
Furjes insisted that the Association of Budapest District Authorities, headed by Karacsony, had received the government’s plans on the use of the recovery fund months ago.
The government proposed to channel over 3,000 billion forints (EUR 8.2bn) to Budapest, with 500 billion forints for development, innovation and higher education, he said. A further 1,500 billion would go towards developing transport in Budapest and its suburbs, and 500 billion to health-care development, he said.
The development of green areas would get 180 billion, he added.
Furjes called on Karacsony to “set aside political differences and work together for the city”.