In Hungary, the proportion of ESI Funds in public investments reaches over 60%: Cohesion Policy is essential to the country's economic competitiveness. I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the tangible and positive impact of Cohesion Policy in Hungary.
I met with Minister of Prime Minister's Office János Lázár, to discuss the implementation of Cohesion Policy in the country. I told him I was glad to see that the implementation of the 2014-20 period has started smoothly in Hungary, with the valuable lessons of the Task Force for Better Implementation. I invited the Hungarian authorities to fully seize the opportunities of combining ESI Funds with the EFSI and praised their commitment to significantly increase their use of financial instruments.
We also reached a fair political agreement in one key open audit issue in the country, the asphalt case. I presented my opinion that lengthy juridical disputes will not help anybody and I welcomed the fact that Hungary would accept financial corrections as proposed by the Commission. Minister Lázár and I agreed on the fact that the key to a successful implementation of Cohesion Policy in the country lies in a close cooperation.
I also has the opportunity to visit three EU-funded projects, which allowed me to see how Cohesion Policy was concretely improving the lives of the Hungarian people.
First, I had the pleasure to visit beautiful Liszt Academy of Music, a concert hall and a world-famous music conservatory in Budapest, founded in 1875 with an Art Nouveau style. With the support of ESI Funds, the EU contributed to the complete renewal of the central building of the Academy, which is a national monument.
Then, together with Minister Lázár and Patriciu-Andrei Achimaş-Cadariu, Romanian Minister for Health, I visited the project "Development of Infrastructure of Regular Mammography Screening in Hódmezővásárhely, Szentes and Arad" at the border between Hungary and Romania. €1.6 million from the ERDF supported this project; this money could hardly have been better invested. This has helped effectively address one of the most serious diseases for women: breast cancer. As for any type of cancer, early diagnostic is essential; and this is exactly what this facility is doing. Thanks to this project, almost two thirds of women between 45 and 65 in this area are now screened.
Finally, I visited the "Extreme Light Infrastructure-Attosecond Light Pulse Source" (ELI-ALPS) project, a cutting-edge laser technology research facility. It will be the world's biggest and first international user facility in beam line and laser technology research. This is an investment for the future in Hungary, that will undoubtedly benefit the whole EU.