Although strong-arm techniques by the Orbán government led to Hungarian NGOs permanently losing out on 77 billion Ft. (US $248.4 million) of EU grants, a new avenue has opened up for them to possibly receive funding after all, reports HVG.
Brussels is now reaching out to civil organizations through a new European Commission program that will allow NGOs to apply for grants without the Orbán government having any say in the process.
The new system being put in place will permit civil organizations that protect and promote EU values to apply for cohesion money. The hope is that it will benefit NGOs who fight for the rule of law, democracy, equality, and human rights.
According to HVG, the range of projects that can be funded on the basis of defending EU values is quite wide: from local advocacy groups, to active participation in public affairs, to the work of legal protection organizations.
The grant description states that Brussels specifically wants to help small local organizations working in remote locations that have a harder time accessing funding. These groups will be able to apply for grants worth a maximum of €60,000 ($75,600).
There are already many NGOs in Hungary eagerly looking forward to this new opportunity, but there will also no doubt be a similar level of interest in other Member States.
Since distributing the grants will be the responsibility of the European Commission, national governments cannot have a say in who gets the money and for what. This may explain why, although Member States can set up an information resource center on the new program, the Hungarian government has not yet done so based on the information available. [Népszava]