A sample of that we reported, Tibor Navracsics, Hungary’s minister without portfolio responsible for territorial development and the use of new resources, signed a cooperation agreement on Friday with László Papp, the mayor of Debrecen, related to the development of the Southern Economic Zone (DGÖ). After the minister, he also gave an interview to the local press.
What does the agreement signed today mean from an economic point of view?
This is about cooperation in the establishment of the Southern Economic Zone. In the near future, Debrecen will see a number of investments that will expand the city’s economic space. In order to do this, we need to make various infrastructure investments to make the city and its surroundings suitable for the implementation of these investments. The Southern Economic Zone is part of it. Previously, there was the North-West, where the government and the city cooperated, now the Southern Economic Zone is based on this model, infrastructure, public works, road construction and other activities are carried out by the government and the city together.
From the point of view of the government’s territorial development strategy, what role does and can the eastern region, and especially Debrecen, play in the coming years?
It has an extremely important role. Budapest is the country’s unquestionable engine, because the city itself, as the country’s center and strongest economy, dictates the pace not only within the city limits, but also radiating out into the region. However, there is also a great need for those cities that are able to organize society and economy outside Budapest’s catchment area. Such is Debrecen, the country’s second largest city, which also has a significant regional influence. And we are trying to support this with infrastructural and economic developments, so that the role of the center can be perceived by the people living here. We can see this in the investments of recent years. Not only is the city getting stronger economically, but it appears on the map in terms of real estate, which in many cases also has problems. Also the development of the infrastructure, which also causes problems, but that is precisely why it is necessary for the government to help the leaders of the city efficiently and with great strength in the development of the city.
Where are the European Union negotiations now in terms of resources?
At 4/5ths, if we divide it into fifths. In fact, in the rule of law conditionality procedure, we are now fulfilling our earlier commitments. I am confident that since we can meet all deadlines and act in accordance with the agreement we have made with the European Commission, you will confirm this in mid-November that the implementation of these obligations is progressing well. In terms of EU funds, we actually have two series of negotiations, one that concerns the release of operational programs, the other that aims to obtain funds from the recovery fund. We are already putting the finishing touches on the content and structure of the operational programs, and I am very confident that we will be able to sign the partnership agreement in the near future, which will allow access to the operational program. Regarding the recovery fund, we need to do one step more, because while it is enough to agree with the Commission and sign the agreement for the operational programs, the national program of the recovery fund must also be accepted by the Council, which is a decision-making body consisting of its representatives. We need to hurry up a bit more, as our goal is to have the appropriate documents by the end of the year so that we can access European Union funds, but I am confident that we will be able to keep up the pace here as well, and a decision will be made here as well. And we can end the year with access to European resources.
Even if it is an exact amount, is it possible to know in terms of magnitude how many funds will be allocated to the countryside, to Debrecen, in the future, if the European funds do not apply?
There are no quotas, the amount that the rural development program comes to Hungary in the framework of the operational programs is around HUF 10,000 billion, and a total of HUF 4,000 billion is what comes in the framework of the rural development program. a total of HUF 14 thousand billion. On the one hand, this depends on the municipalities and regions in the case of territorial operational programs, and on the applicants in the case of other operational programs. Debrecen and this region are also among the regions that need to catch up, so you can apply for EU funds with a higher intensity of support, and we undertake that 2/3 of the new funds in the regional operational program will go to the regions that need to catch up. This means that access will be discounted for Debrecen and its region. We can ensure that Debrecen businesses, municipalities belonging to the region, and applicants are successful.