Building private residences on EU money became a thing if you are well-connected.
EU central planner comrades are not smarter than you or I. So when they set their innovative little minds to the sticky problem of poor villages with no economy to speak of, they can’t come up with any ideas. So they give money for everything a village doesn’t need: swimming pools, hotel spas, lookout towers, and guest houses (while they don’t give money for maintaining and heating those swimming pools, let alone filling them with water and hiring someone to take care of it).
So the EU calls for applications to build things like guest houses, and since the local governments are trusted with the distribution of EU funds, Fidesz mayors (or a Party strongmen) are first in line to win such tenders. What conflict of interests? This is the country where the prime minister’s excuse for city hopping on a private jet is that it belongs to a tender-winning oligarch, so all is fine.
According to EU central planning logic guest houses will attract an avalanche of tourism in dead end villages. Not only that, but two guest houses mean a double avalanche. Just like two lookout towers in the same (flat) village brings twice as may breathless tourists – who will presumably need a guest house to stay. Or two. (Not that there is a shortage of empty houses on the market in the vain hope of maybe, perhaps, selling it and starting a new life elsewhere. ‘For Sale’ signs are ubiquitous in villages and small towns and the houses that are missing the signs might also be on the market, just stopped hoping.)
Newly built guest houses for the well-connected comrades (local mayors, their families or their companies, many of them from Fidesz, but also independents) are a regular occurrence in Hungary. Index.hu went after a few dozen such cases, documented them, but there will be no consequences. The EU has no idea what to do when local governments just decide to legalize the privatization of EU funds.
Winners of such guest house subsidies don’t have to repay the money – but they are supposed to operate them as guest houses for at least five years. That’s quite a good deal already, but that was apparently not enough for many of them. Some of them never received guests, others didn’t even pretend to rent out their brand new houses.
The mayor of Izsák didn’t really hide that he is actually living in the guest house. (Pictures below.)
But Izsák’s mayor didn’t stop at just one private hunting residence on EU money. He had two. One of them won 100 thousand euros, the other a stunning 170000 euros. Non-refundable.
Izsák is not the only place. Karád and Somoskőújfalu also have very lucky mayors, although the latter only received 24 thousand euros for his new house. He never bothered to advertise it for tourists so that must be what stops Somoskőújfalu from becoming prosperous.
Watch the mayor swearing at investigative journalist for asking about the supposed guest house.
But the real question is not why locals take advantage of inane EU spending. The question is why Europe is pushing villages?