‘Hungary’s actions in this matter are unacceptable. Unfortunately, the Hungarian Government has shown little willingness to find solutions that comply with the agreements Hungary has entered into. We have therefore decided to suspend payments until this matter has been resolved,’ said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Vidar Helgesen.
As of 1 January, the Hungarian Government transferred the implementation and monitoring of programmes and funds under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme from a ministry to an independent, state-owned company.
This was a unilateral decision on the part of Hungary, and thus in breach of the rules for the EEA and Norway Grants and the agreements Hungary has entered into with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. So far, dialogue with the Hungarian Government has not led to a solution.
‘The Hungarian Government is well aware of the requirements stipulated by the donor countries. The monitoring and implementation tasks in connection with the programmes and funds under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme must be transferred back to the central government administration in Hungary, in line with the practice used in all the other beneficiary countries,’ said Mr Helgesen.
The EEA and Norway Grants are a contribution on the part of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to reducing social and economic disparities in the EEA. Norway contributes around 97 % of the funding provided under the scheme.
Hungary is a relatively large recipient of EEA and Norway Grants. For the current period, EUR 153.3 million has been allocated (approximately NOK 1.3 billion). Almost EUR 12 million of this amount has already been paid out.
‘If the Hungarian Government now shows a willingness to find a solution, there will be no major impact on the implementation of programmes and projects in Hungary,’ Mr Helgesen said.