Brussels, 23 July 2003
EU Cohesion Policy in Hungary: Negotiations on the Community Support Framework start today in Budapest
The European Commission launched the first round of negotiations with Hungary on future Structural Funds assistance today in Budapest. Negotiations will be dedicated to the Community Support Framework (CSF) and related Operational Programmes (OP) for the period 2004-2006. In a letter of 16 July addressed to Endre Juhász, Minister without Portfolio for the Co-ordination of EU Affairs, Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, set out the Commission's position on how Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund should be used in Hungary.
At the end of March 2003, Hungary submitted to the Commission its National Development Plan 2000-2006 and sent in five draft Operational Programmes at the beginning of May 2003.
In his letter Michel Barnier wrote: “As EU institutions engage in what will be difficult negotiations on a new generation of cohesion policies for the period after 2006, it is very important that the European Union's programmes in Hungary are a success. Not only because of the country's evident needs, but also because success would demonstrate the added value of such interventions. The Plan represents a good basis for the negotiations that lie ahead and it is all the more important to reach an early agreement because it will allow the Community Support Framework and Operational Programmes to be settled in good time. The expenditure under these programmes applies from 1 January 2004 so the implementation on the ground should begin as soon as possible.”
More than euro 3 billion for basic infrastructure and measures for generating growth and creating jobs
Hungary is, after Poland, the second largest recipient amongst the new Member States of Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund support. On the basis of the decisions of the Copenhagen European Council last December, about euro 2 billion will be allocated to Hungary under the EU Structural Funds and some euro 1.12 billion under the Cohesion Fund.
Objective 1 of the Structural Funds is devoted to promoting the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind. The CSF will be implemented through five Operational Programmes, concentrating on business infrastructure and business aid, human resources development, transport and environmental infrastructure, agriculture and rural development, and regional development. In addition, the Cohesion Fund will co-finance major transport and environmental infrastructure projects.
Hungary has seven regions, all of them eligible under Objective1 in the period 2004-06. The entire territory of the country is also eligible for support from the Cohesion Fund.
The Structural Funds comprise four individual Funds: The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), Guidance Section, and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). All of them will contribute to the financing of the Community Support Framework (CSF) in Hungary. In addition, the Cohesion Fund will support projects in the fields of environment and transport infrastructure projects of common interest (trans-European networks).
The CSF describes the socio-economic context of the country or of the regions concerned, defines and justifies the strategy, priorities and objectives to be achieved and outlines the system for the management, monitoring, evaluation, financial management and control of the programmes.
After the approval of the CSF, the Commission approves the Operational Programmes to implement it. They contain a set of priorities consistent with the CSF and a summary of the measures to be co-financed as well as the provisions for implementing the programmes. The Operational Programmes may be financed by one or more than one Fund.
During the negotiations, the Commission will seek to ensure a high level of coherence and co-ordination between the priorities, Funds and Operational Programmes, taking into account absorption capacity in the various areas concerned. Clarification will also be sought on the delivery structure for the programmes as a whole and on the individual measures.
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