Tibor Navracsics – Photo: Facebook

Navracsics: Cohesion policy to be priority of Hungarian presidency

The debate on the future of the European Union's cohesion policy will be a priority of the upcoming Hungarian presidency, the public administration and regional development minister said in Budapest on Thursday.

Speaking at the first Cohesion Summit at the Ludovika University of Public Service, Tibor Navracsics said Hungary saw cohesion policy as “one of the most successful policies of the EU”, and had a vested interest in maintaining it. The stronger cohesion is in a country, the more competitive it is and the less resources it will need for regions and groups lagging behind, he said.

Under the Hungarian presidency, an informal discussion will be held on the future of the cohesion policy in September, and a formal Council meeting at the end of the year, he said.

Hungary, and other countries in the region, have shown significant economic development since their EU integration 20 years ago, Navracsics said. Hungary has overtaken Greece and “is head to head with Portugal” in developmental ranking, he said.

The government aims to have Hungary among the “five most liveable countries” of the EU by 2030, he said. To achieve that, the development of rural areas and retaining people living there is a priority, he said.

Navracsics said that while Hungary has shown significant development in the past years, that had been mostly down to the growth seen in Budapest and its suburbs. The city’ GDP per capita was at 129 percent of the EU average in 2004, and that grew to 158 percent by 2022, he said. At the same time, the GDP/capita of Hungary’s north-eastern region was at 52 percent of the EU average in 2022, up from 44 percent in 2004. In the north-west, one of the most developed rural regions of the country, the GDP/capita was at 68 percent of EU average in 2022, up from 66 percent in 2004, he added.

The government adopted a new law on regional development last year, which aims to involve regions more in decision-making, he said. The new model is aiming to focus on cooperation rather than competition among localities in the same “developmental regions”, he said. Thus, Budapest and its suburbs, home to some 3 million people, “are considered one city” from a developmental viewpoint, Navracsics said. The second developmental region would include localities situated 50-90km from Budapest, and the third comprises cities near the borders that would particularly benefit from cross-border cooperation, he said.

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