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EU plans to cut cohesion funds

May 14th, 2018

A liberal EU expert contends that PM Orbán has become a major player on the European level and doesn’t have to fear European fund cuts. Another liberal columnist calls on the government to strengthen strategic cooperation with other member states in the dispute over the proposed EU budget.

Commenting on the draft EU budget for 2021-27 (see BudaPost May 4) in Heti Világgazdaság, Tamás Kugyela thinks that the European Union is unlikely to punish Hungary for what he sees as the weakening of democratic institutions and corruption. The suspension of cohesion funds would be an unprecedented act of retribution and would require the endorsement of both the European Council and the European Parliament, the liberal commentator points out. Kugyela also deems it unlikely that the European People’s Party will discipline Fidesz, which has the seventh largest fraction in the EPP, and whose exit would jeopardize the relative majority of the EPP in the European Parliament. Kugyela believes that the Prime Minister has both spotted the weakness of the EU and become a major player in it. Kugyela even goes so far as to suggest that, in his disputes with the EU, “Orbán has the upper hand”.

Writing in Élet és Irodalom, Miklós Losoncz thinks that the proposed EU budget would slow down Hungarian growth. The liberal columnist thinks that the Hungarian government has missed the opportunity to use cohesion funds paid by the EU so far to boost Hungarian competitiveness and productivity. The proposed cuts in the structural funds and the agricultural subsidies would thus slow down the economy, Losoncz thinks. He deems it unlikely however that the budget will be passed in its present form. Losoncz reminds his readers that the draft requires unanimity within the council and this could be vetoed by Orbán himself. He suggests however that instead of using its veto, Hungary should compromise and use the opportunity to form strategic alliances to further increase its influence on the European level.

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