The Modern Cities of Hungary’s Countryside
Committed to the development of the Hungarian countryside and convinced that the provincial capitals will be the catalysts of that growth, the government has launched a 4 billion euro program called Modern Cities.
Modern Cities targets those towns and cities designated as county seats. It identifies, in cooperation with the municipality, certain priority projects in core infrastructure, sports facilities, culture and tourism. It also aims to link major cities to motorways and borders, reviving local economies and boosting employment.
Sopron, the first to benefit from the initiative, will be connected more directly to the Austrian border with the M85 motorway, and will have its main tourist attractions, the historic, Baroque old town and the Fertő lake area renovated and developed.
In the case of Eger, the second town to join the program, an express road will connect the city to the M3 motorway by 2018. An industrial park will be completed and a new, 6 billion forint complex for water sports will be built.
The agreement with Zalaegerszeg will enable the city to have a new swimming pool, roads and railway connections as well as hospital development. A pilgrimage site honoring Cardinal József Mindszenty will be another new attraction.
In Miskolc, the motorway will be extended to Slovakia by 2019, and the city will be given an industrial park where businesses may create thousands of new jobs.
Pécs, the most recent addition to Modern Cities, is expected to double its employment figures by hosting new businesses with the help of new infrastructure like the recently opened Harman Professional plant and a new industrial site built to attract investment. A basketball academy is now under construction, and the motorway will be extended to the Croatian border.
In the coming period, we will see a total of 23 such agreements to be signed with all of the Hungarian county capitals with a budget of EUR 4 billion earmarked for the program. The local mayors will have a decisive role in distributing the funding according to local priorities and the agreed upon projects.
Since taking office in 2010, the Orbán Government has dedicated itself to establishing new foundations for rural development. To ease the burdens on municipalities, in 2012 the central government took on the debt of all settlements with a population of 5,000 or less and later offered further debt consolidation packages to bigger towns. Eventually, the national government assumed from cities and towns a total debt of over 2 billion euro, accumulated mostly in the period between 2002 and 2008.