Oslo | Norway announced on Friday that it would not provide financial assistance to Hungary for failing to reach an agreement with Budapest over the identity of the independent director responsible for distributing funds within civil society.
The wealthy Scandinavian kingdom is not a member of the European Union (EU) but is closely linked to it through the European Economic Area (EEA). As such, it pays aid to the Eastern European member states of the European Union, with the aim of erasing the inequalities on the continent.
Norway allocated about 2.3 billion Swedish kronor, or 220 million euros, and to a much lesser extent, Iceland and Liechtenstein – other members of the European Economic Area – for Hungary during 2014-2021, including more than 100 million kroner for civil society – which could be critical of authority.
“Donor countries and Hungary failed to agree on how to manage civil society funding,” the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“As a result, no funding will be provided to Hungary to implement the programs during the current period and Hungary loses access to about 2.3 billion crowns,” he said.
The ministry explained that while the Hungarian authorities agreed that funds for civil society in the country should be managed by an independent official, they did not agree with their Norwegian counterparts on the selection of the responsible official.
“The civil society finance operator is responsible for managing over SEK 100 million in funding and must ensure that this funding is used to strengthen civil society, promote active citizenship and support citizens. Vulnerable groups,” said Minister Ine Eriksen Soered.
Donor countries need to ensure that the best candidate for this task is selected. “We have not reached an agreement with Hungary on this point,” she said in a press release.
Like Poland, sovereign Hungary Viktor Orban is regularly criticized by its European Union partners for its reforms accused in particular of undermining the independence of judges and gay rights.
“It is increasingly seen that the rule of law, democracy and basic human rights are under great pressure in Hungary. There are totally unacceptable attacks against minorities,” Ms. Eriksen Soered told NRK radio and television.
On July 9, Oslo announced an increase in its financial support for civil society and the training of judges in Poland.
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