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EU Budgetary Control Committee visits Hungary

September 25th, 2017

Pundits from all across the political spectrum use the visit of the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee to accuse the government and the opposition of corruption.

On Tuesday the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament (CONT) visited Hungary to inspect different projects funded by EU cohesion funds. Among others, they visited the Vál-valley vintage train connecting Felcsút and Alcsútdoboz which was built using 1.9 million Euros from EU funds. Ever since it opened last April, opposition parties have ridiculed the line, built in PM Orbán’s home village, as a symbol of what they consider the government’s wasteful and corrupt spending of EU funds. At a press conference after the visit, the CONT said they had not found any irregularities with the Vál-valley vintage train, but they would commission independent experts to write an impact study.

Népszava’s Miklós Hargitai suggests that the construction of the Válvalley dinkey train stands as proof that there is no democracy in Hungary. The left-wing columnist accuses the government of diverting resources needed for much more socially useful and important projects, to the building of Orbán’s pet railway. In a country where the government can spend public money at will, ignoring public priorities, there is no democracy or rule of law, Hargitai fumes

In Heti VilággazdaságÁrpád WTóta calls the way EU funds have been used mindless spending and thinks that this may well result in less structural funding from 2020. The liberal commentator contends that cohesion subsidies have often been spent on projects with little use throughout the EU. Tóta speculates that once the migration crisis is over, the West European public will find new targets. If they realize that their taxes are being spent on frivolous projects like the Vál-valley dinkey line, they will revolt against continuing the EU cohesion program beyond 2020, Tóta fears.

The main lesson László Csécsi draws from the case iMagyar Nemzet is that opposition parties should not hope that the EU will help them defeat Fidesz in 2018. Csécsi points out that the commission found no irregularities and the Hungarian government can use that to dismiss corruption allegations by the opposition. “The Left cannot expect the EU to win the 2018 election for them,” Csécsi concludes.

The Commission’s initial report is a blow for the opposition, János Dénes Orbán writes in Magyar Idők. The pro-government commentator sees what he calls the scandal around the Vál-valley train created by the Left, an indication that the opposition parties follow an unscrupulous, ‘Bolshevik’ strategy in their efforts to demonize the government. The Left, which, the author believes, ‘serves foreign interests’ has realized that they themselves have no hope to convince Hungarian voters, and so they try to convey their message through supranational actorsHe finds it ironic that while the EU Commission has recently identified vast irregular spending under the former Socialist-Liberal governments (see BudaPost January 18), the Left was unsuccessful in convincing the commission that the tiny train project involved corruption.

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