Oslo | Norway announced on Friday that it would not provide financial assistance to Hungary for failing to reach an agreement with Budapest on the identity of an independent administrator responsible for distributing funds to civil society.
The prosperous Scandinavian state is not a member of the European Union (EU), but is affiliated with it through the European Economic Area (EEA). As such, it aims to help Eastern European countries that are members of the EU, with the aim of bridging the inequalities on the continent.
Some SEKs 2.3 billion or EUR 220 million were allocated by Norway and on a much smaller scale, Iceland and Liechtenstein – the other members of the EEA – for Hungarian benefit during 2014-2021, 100 million crowns for civil society over 2014-2021 – could criticize the authority.
“Donor countries and Hungary have failed to agree on how to manage civil society funds,” the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“As a result, Hungary will not receive any funding for the implementation of the program at the present time and Hungary will lose access to about 2.3 billion crowns,” he said.
The ministry explained that although the Hungarian authorities agreed that the funds intended for the country’s civil society should be managed by an independent administrator, they did not agree with their Norwegian counterparts in electing the administrator.
“The civil society funding operator is responsible for managing more than 100 million funds and should see to it that these funds are used to strengthen civil society, promote active citizenship and support citizens. Harmful groups,” said Minister Ine Erickson Seride.
“Donor countries must see to it that they select the best candidate for the job. We have not entered into an agreement with Hungary on this matter,” she said in a press release.
Like Poland, Sovereign Victor Orban’s Hungary has been regularly criticized by its EU partners for its reforms, particularly for undermining the independence of the judiciary and the rights of LGBT people.
“Both the rule of law and democracy and basic human rights in Hungary are under considerable pressure. There are completely unacceptable attacks on minorities,” Ms Erickson Seride argued at NRK Radio and Television’s microphone.
On July 9, Oslo announced financial assistance to civil society and an increase in the training of judges in Poland.