Towards a climate neutral EU:
efficient allocation of EU funds

The development of zero-emission bus transport (RRF) in Hungary

Organisation: Clean Air Action Group, Hungary Website: Added: April 06, 2022
Project start date: January 14, 2022
Project end date: June 30, 2030


The project’s goal is to improve the quality and operational efficiency of local and suburban public-transport services and reduce their environmental impact by purchasing new electric buses. Municipalities with a population of at least 25,000 (and the companies responsible for local public-transport services) can apply for a total of 300 new electrically powered buses with at least 22 seats, in addition to related charging infrastructure to replace old, polluting buses. The European Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) intends to fund the project.

According to the call, the selection process should ensure that selected applications will result in the replacement of the highest number of obsolete vehicles, and that applying municipalities should have a bus-fleet decarbonisation plan and fill in a generic 'Do No Significant Harm' questionnaire. Apart from these vague criteria, however, there are no specific requirements to guarantee that the funds will be spent in the most efficient and climate-friendly way (see our recommendations).

Financial data

Total budget: EUR 146,000,000

Share of EU funding: 100%


Overall, support for zero-emission public transport in Hungary is beneficial with regard to climate and air quality. Such projects should be upscaled – contrary to the financial support of private electric cars, which has been the practice of previous funding programmes in Hungary (see further information below). The electrification of public-transport vehicles prevents harmful emissions much more efficiently than the electrification of private cars. The selection process should prioritise municipalities with the worst air quality. Zero-emission buses should be used on the routes and during time periods with the highest volumes of traffic and air pollution. In the applications and the related bus-fleet decarbonisation plans, the carbon emission of vehicles should be presented from a total life-cycle aspect, including the GHG emissions of all phases, cradle to grave (i.e., raw material extraction, manufacturing, use, end-of-life). Technical details of battery capacity, charging capacity, and the coordination of planned charging times with schedules should be disclosed to prove that each zero-emission bus in fact replaces an obsolete vehicle (i.e., there is no need to maintain an extra diesel vehicle to cover battery-charging times).

The 'Do No Significant Harm Questionnaire' is too generic, the questions too open-ended, and lacking any specific guidelines or requirements on what information to disclose besides one’s voluntary opinion. In parallel with the introduction of zero-emission buses, measures should be implemented to reduce car traffic (such as introducing/increasing parking fees, traffic calming measures, LEZs, etc.) to increase the project's decarbonising efficiency. In recent years, for example, Hungary imported more than 100,000 second-hand cars annually; if this trend continues, the 300 new electric buses in themselves will not be able to reverse the worsening environmental effects of transport.

Information sources

Official website of Hungarian government

Other info

European Climate Initiative (EUKI)
This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.