At an extraordinary press conference on his social media platform, MEP István Ujhelyi reported on new EU funding and support tools Hungary can use for protection against the coronavirus, the existence of which is, however, denied by the government.
In doing so, the MSZP politician once again refuted the government’s claims that our country does not receive any help from the European Union. “It is perceptible that much of the country doubts the credibility of Viktor Orbán and his government, and the serious lies about EU funding provide valid basis for this,” Ujhelyi said, recalling that according to official government communication the country has only received aid from China and the Turkish Council in the preparation for the epidemic.
According to Ujhelyi, it is factually proven that the European Community makes nearly two thousand billion forints of funds accessible to Hungary. This, by the way, as pointed out by the Socialist MEP, is part of the EUR 37 billion European rescue package voted on by Fidesz MEPs at an extraordinary session of the European Parliament on Thursday. Earlier, Ujhelyi presented a letter sent to Ministers Miklós Kásler and László Palkovics sent in early March by EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform Elisa Ferreira and EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit.
This letter informed the Orbán government that, as part of the first rescue package, the Hungarian government would not have to repay the pre-financing from the European Structural and Investment Funds, which is EUR 861 million for Hungary. Moreover, the Commission had decided that this amount would be complemented by a pre-financing budget for 2020 of an additional EUR 607 million; this means that around EUR 520 billion of EU funds are already at the disposal of the Orbán government.
István Ujhelyi also pointed out that while Hungary can expect nearly two thousand billion forints (EUR 5.6 billion) from the European rescue package opened up in connection with the coronavirus, other member states can expect a more modest budget. The Czech Republic and Croatia, for example, receive “only” EUR 1.1 billion, but Romania (EUR 3 billion) and Italy in severe crisis (EUR 4.1 billion can expect less resources than Hungary, with Poland alone getting bigger EU support.
According to the MSZP MEP, the government’s argument that this money has already been allocated in advance and therefore cannot be reallocated is also a lie. Referring to a letter from the European Commission, Ujhelyi refuted Fidesz’s arguments, saying it was clear that Hungary had not yet sent its bills to Brussels of the freed up amount, meaning that these funds could now indeed be reallocated for protection against the coronavirus, the EU has offered the possibility to do so.
“I call on the government to explain to the public in detail what it wants to spend this tremendous amount of money on! What exactly are those urgent projects that do not permit the government to spend on protection against the coronavirus? Are these the tenders already promised to be won by the circle of friends and buddies? If there is only one such project, then it becomes clear that it was more important for Fidesz to stuff one of Lőrinc Mészáros’s companies with money than to deal with the situation of Hungarian families during the epidemic! ” said István Ujhelyi on his community page.
At the Saturday press conference, the European politician of MSZP also said that there were twelve different EU tools and programs that the government could use for protection, such as health institution development or job protection. Ujhelyi mentioned that, for example, the Prime Minister’s Office had an EU budget of HUF 13 billion that was allocated for communication with the public, but now, in line with the EU decision, we could use it for protection against the coronavirus.
According to Ujhelyi, there are similarly mobilizable EU funds in the treasury of the Ministry of Foreign Economy and Foreign Affairs (HUF 10 billion) and the Ministry of National Economy (HUF 64 billion). The Socialist MEP added that there are currently 47 open applications in the Széchenyi2020 program, almost all of which could be used for protection if the government made the necessary call. According to István Ujhelyi, instead, the government is lying to Hungarian society, to the European Union and to the Members of the European Parliament, although it should rather build trust among European partners and the Hungarian people in this severe crisis.
Budapest – 28/03/2020