The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said multiple times that during the COVID-19 crisis, the EU has provided no help to Hungary, despite the country’s needs. Hungary has received aid from China and the Turkic Council in the form of tests and personal protective equipment.
Prime Minister Orban is instrumentalising this issue to criticise the European Union and tarnish the image of European solidarity.
On 01 October 2020, Hungarian Member of the European Parliament Sandor Ronai on behalf of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, addressed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
MEP Ronai asked “did Hungary receive any form of support under the rescEU programme or other instruments aimed at tackling the pandemic or its consequences?” and “if so, what kind of support was it and what did it consist of?”
On 10 November, Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his answer, he stated that “the deployment of capacities from the European Civil Protection Pool or from rescEU under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) always follows an official request for assistance” and added that “Hungary did not request any assistance for the COVID-19 emergency from the UCPM”. He added that “Hungary successfully applied to host rescEU medical stockpiles and is, since September 2020, one of six Member States that now host strategic rescEU medical stockpiles”.
Commissioner Lenarcic highlighted that “through a grant agreement with the Commission, Hungary will procure, maintain and ensure the deployability of medical equipment for intensive care (ventilators, patient monitors, infusion pumps, etc.) during the 5 years for which the agreement was signed”.
Commissioner Lenarcic underlined that “Hungary did not request any assistance for COVID-19 from the mobility package under the Emergency Support Instrument” and that “the EU Cohesion policy response to the COVID-19 included flexibilities for Member States introduced by the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiatives (CRII and CRII+)”, adding that “Hungary decided to use two CRII options”.
Commissioner Lenarcic reported that Hungary “had moved its eight Operational Programmes to 100% co-financing (from 85% in developing regions and 50% in the more developed Central-Hungary region)” and that “this increased co-financing generated EUR 214 million in extra payments for already submitted claims”.
In ending, he declared that “using the flexibility mechanisms, Hungary decided to re-target about EUR 660 million to launch several crisis-related calls to finance projects, mainly in the following areas: (i) supporting small and medium-sized enterprises’ working capital or investments (ii), support for developments of micro and small enterprises operating in disadvantaged settlements (iii), and emergency wage support”.
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