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EU budget deal: A Hungarian perspective

February 11th, 2013

Commentators from across the political spectrum agree that the government has managed to increase the sum originally allocated to Hungary in the 2014-2020 EU budget. They also agree however that more effective EU integration would require far more money.

Under the EU budget deal brokered on Friday, Hungary will be entitled to draw the equivalent of HUF 7,080 billion in EU structural and cohesion funds over the seven year period, if the scheme is approved by the European Parliament. Hungary will get the second largest funding per citizen, and the second largest as well in GNP terms, but ten per cent less than in the current budget period. The draft budget circulated earlier by the European Commission proposed a 30 per cent cut in the overall budget. PM Viktor Orbán described the deal as a success for Hungary, while the MSZP considers it a disappointment.

Taking into account the fact that the overall EU budget has been cut, the deal can be considered a success for the Hungarian government, István Pataky writes in Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government pundit notes that Hungary, in alliance with other less developed member states, managed to significantly increase the funds originally proposed for their integration. Pataky, however, finds it rather disappointing that it took such a long battle for the EU to agree to a budget which amounts to a mere one per cent of the total GDP of its member states. In order to speed up the pace of integration, the EU should redistribute far more than what has been agreed upon, Pataky contends.

In Népszava, Miklós Bonta acknowledges that the next EU budget will be more generous with Hungary than the first draft calculations proposed. The left-wing commentator finds it somewhat ironic, however, that PM Orbán, who has been waging what he calls a freedom fight with the EU, has now become so humble in order to secure more structural funds for the country.

In its front page editorial, Népszabadság describes the EU budget talks as a piece of pathetic and petty horse trading. In the end, a compromise was brokered, and both those countries which favour restrictions and the less developed member states which demand more substantial assistance claim victory. Ordinary Europeans, however, have very little understanding of what the money will actually be spent on, Népszabadság remarks.

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