The meeting took place symbolically in the George Soros-founded Central European University in Budapest which is in the process of relocating to Vienna, as conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has introduced laws which made it impossible for the American liberal billionaire and political activist’s university to remain in the country.
The new liberal mayor of Budapest argued that local governments can make better use of EU funds than national governments.
"Independent of the serious problems regarding the right usage of funds in the region, these issues make the old adage of 'think global act local' especially acute. Therefore we think that it is in the interest of the EU that in the whole of Europe these direct financial mechanisms should be launched and they can expect results in return. I am convinced that these cities can do miracles in the areas of climate change and innovation"- says Gergely Karacsony, Mayor of Budapest.
The mayor of Warsaw stated that EU funds should be slushed straight to local governments as the conservative national governments often withhold money from the metropolitan regions.
"We were allocating money to the poorer regions which needed to catch up, and of course we have to do it, we have to concentrate on those, but we also were allocating money to the cities as they were engines of growth, and we have 12 engines of growth in Poland as the metropolitan regions are very, very important. Similarly in the countries like the Czech Republic of Hungary or Slovakia, where sometimes governments have ideas of actually taking money away from the cities for political reasons''- says Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw.
Some EU member states say the disbursement of EU funds for infrastructure and other projects should hinge on respect for democratic standards and the rule of law, accusing the conservative governments in the Visegrad Group of breaking the rules. The liberal mayors want to take advantage of the situation and hope to gain funds at the expense of national governments.
Source: Poland Daily