Budapest, April 17 (MTI) – Job-creating investment projects can restore Europe’s competitiveness, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a press conference held jointly with Jyrki Katainen, vice-president of the European Commission, in Budapest on Friday.
Katainen said a shortage of development projects was a deep-rooted problem in Europe’s economies. This is why the EU has decided to set up a European Strategic Development Fund to finance developments to the tune of 315 billion euros, he added.
Szijjarto welcomed the European decision to set up the fund. Hungary will bid for financing for energy projects, especially a strategic gas pipeline between Turkey and Hungary. It will also bid for transport development and digital research and innovation funding, he added.
Katainen said the new fund would be different from the European Investment Bank in that it could finance higher risk projects by small and medium-size ventures, with a focus on private investment. Energy projects, schemes aimed at increasing the research and development potential of SMEs, and digital infrastructure projects will have priority, he said.
At the same time as implementing the new European investment plan, the European Commission wants to complete a real integration of the EU’s domestic market in the areas of digitalisation, energy and integration of the capital markets, Katainen said.
Answering a question on the EU’s freezing some 700 billion forints (EUR 2.3bn) for Hungary, Szijjarto said that efficiency and transparency of Hungary’s utilisation of community funds have improved. He said that the total paid out to winning projects in Hungary had increased from 1,000 billion forints in 2012 to 1,840 billion last year, and said the increase conveyed “a good message”.
Katainen said that the Commission expects Hungary to make the required adjustments to “clear the situation”. He repeated his position that the freeze was only a technical measure, to be eliminated once controversial issues are resolved.
On Thursday, a Commission spokesman said that the body had suspended the payment of funds for Hungarian projects worth a total 451 million euros last September due to “serious, systemic weaknesses” in the procedure of selecting winning projects.