Dialogue for Hungary (DM) MEP Benedek Jávor has proven beyond any doubt that Chancellor János Lázár’s hatchet man, Nándor Cspreghy (pictured), is a compulsive liar whose official pronouncements are not to be trusted (as if we didn’t already know that from baseless accusations leveled at Norwegian Civil Fund administrator Ökotárs last year).
In March the deputy undersecretary for communications held a half-hour press conference at which he announced that the government was stopping construction of the M4 motorway over concerns purportedly raised by the European Commission over the possibility of a cartel resulting in the project’s high price tag.
It turns out, this was yet another big, fat lie on the part of the Office of the Prime Minister—one to rival the many told last year about Norway Civil Grants and Ökotárs.
According to documents supplied by Jávor, the EC did not approve funding for a number of reasons, none of them having to do with any suspicion of collusion.
Hungary submitted the M4 motorway project proposal to the EC in October 2013. According to Jávor, the EC raised numerous technical objections to the project, in particular its high cost. At EUR 14.7 million per kilometer, which the EC found to be unjustifiably high, the total cost of the project amounted to EUR 495 million.
Rather than attribute the project’s high price tag to collusion, the EC criticized the government for not allocating sufficient time to issue a new pubic tender when the first one failed to result in a reasonable bid.
The EC also questioned the project’s strategic necessity. Hungary presented the project as part of the trans-European network (TEN-T) even though there were no plans to continue the corridor beyond Budapest, meaning that the motorway would lead traffic to Budapest rather than around it. Furthermore, the EC was concerned the road would compete with railway improvement projects already approved by the EC, thereby jeopardizing the ability of those projects to achieve the goals necessary to qualify for EU funding.
The EC reportedly also raised environmental concerns with regard to the path of the road. The motorway would have run along the border of protected Natura 2000 areas, while improving the existing route 4 would have had less impact on the environment at considerably less cost.
Furthermore, the EC’s experts questioned the motorway’s projected volume of traffic. According to Jávor, a weak cost-utility analysis indicated that the expensive project did not represent much value from the point of view of society.
In light of the EC’s objections, Hungary withdrew the project in September 2014. Napi.hu writes that in December of that year the government decided to increase the budget by 20 percent to HUF 160 billion (USD 60 million) and to decrease the technical scope of the project. According to Jávor, the EC never outright rejected the project, but rather expected Hungary to modify it in a manner that adequately addressed the EC`s concerns and resubmit it.