Open Europe Blog

Ahead of our impending paper looking at the effectiveness or otherwise of the EU’s structural funds (watch this space) we came across this timely comment from Hungarian PM Viktor Orban – who has been subject to some (ehum) controversy over recent weeks (he took a roasting in the European Parliament on Wednesday).

During an interview with German tabloid Bild, he was asked that given Hungary’s economic crisis, with the country trying to obtain a “safety net” from the EU and IMF, was it right that Hungarians enjoyed a 16% tax rate on their income while Germans had to contribute up to 47% of theirs – which is sort of a silly question.

When Orban pointed out that Hungary didn’t owe Germany any money, the interviewer asked about the €2 billion Hungary receives from the EU’s structural funds every year. Orban’s answer:

“Correct, but this money does not come from German taxpayers, but from the EU. This money is available to us as a member of the EU.”

Hello Mr Orban. Where does “EU money” come from?

Here at Open Europe we argue that less wealthy member states such as Hungary should continue to receive EU structural and cohesion funds (though the funds need serious reform). But the money doesn’t come from the EU’s magic plant, but from taxpayers – and around 1/5 of the EU’s budget just so happens to be financed by German ones.

Incidentally, in our forthcoming paper, we’ll present a solution that will make both Hungary and Germany fare better from the EU budget.

Just to whet your appetite.

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