Hungary tapped 99% of EU funds allocated for 2004-2006
Hungary has used 99% of the €2.7 billion or HUF 681 billion in EU and Hungarian development funding allocated in the country's first National Development Plan for the 2004-2006 period, its first after Hungary's accession to the EU in 2004, the State Audit Office (ÁSz) said after completing the audit of the implementation of the first NFT.
Hungarian co-funding amounted to close to HUF 240 billion of the total allocation, and the actual Hungarian national budget expenditure on the plan exceeded that amount by about HUF 35 billion, ÁSz said. The additional expenditure primarily resulted from the funding of reserve projects and from projects finally funded entirely from the national budget as EU funding was not disbursed on "suspicion of irregularities".
The last payouts under the three-year development plan happened on the June 30, 2009 deadline, and the final settlement of NFT programs with the European Commission started in 2010.
The State Audit Office established the gap between Hungary and the EU average in terms of per capita GDP narrowed just 1 percentage point in 2004-2009.
Looking at a longer period of 2000-2008, the Central Hungary region achieved strong economic growth and caught up, while the position of the other six regions did not change substantially. Four Hungarian regions have been placed on the European Union's list of "the poorest 20 regions" based on Eurostat 2008 data.
ÁSz said that investments in environment protection, health and education and rural development brought Hungary closer to the EU's level of development. However, these investments have not resulted in short-term economic growth.
The State Audit Office said the almost HUF 700 billion available in the first National Development Plan was used to support around 20,000 projects.
ÁSz said the implementation of the NFT helped Hungary's EU integration. However, the social benefits of the utilization of the funds were not maximized.
The number of new and preserved jobs was around 34,000 and around 330,000 people participated in training as part of the projects under the first National Development Plan.
ÁSz audited the institutions providing the funding as well as 147 of the beneficiary projects. It found that the development objectives of the audited projects were achieved in 75% of the cases. They found irregularities in four cases, and ÁSz reported one case to the police over suspicion of criminal offence.
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