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Nov 05, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán: we want this next EU budget to be fair

The outgoing European Commission proposal for the next European Union budget is unfair and we "want justice," said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán today in Prague.

PM Orbán made the remarks prior to a meeting with the prime ministers of the Visegrád countries, which took place ahead of today’s Friends of Cohesion Summit in the Czech capital.

The proposal that is being debated today across Europe bears all the blemishes and malfunctions of the outgoing Commission, the prime minister said.

In order for the budget to be fair, Prime Minister Orbán said, four things must be changed. First, the rebate system has to be abolished because, if the recalculated rebates take into account which member state pays how much compared to its gross national product, the picture we get is quite unfair.

It must also bear in mind that what Central European countries receive in funding is largely going back to the Western member states as the newer member states open their markets, and that must be reflected in the proposal, he added.

Prime Minister Orbán said that it’s also unfair to reduce cohesion funds because the result is “the poorer someone is, the more money taken from him, while the richer someone is the lesser is the amount taken from him.”

The prime minister also called for increasing flexibility, contrary to the Commission’s proposal, which “goes in the opposite direction.” He added that “we are nonetheless optimistic,” thanks to the fact that there are two former finance ministers among the four Visegrád prime ministers.

The Horizon program to support research and development is one of the most unfair, the prime minister said in response to a question, as 95 percent of its resources go to the old member states and only 5 percent to the new ones. “A national element should be introduced here,” he said.

The same applies to climate neutrality. To make the Hungarian economy carbon-neutral by 2050, for example, projections say that 2.5 percent of GDP would have to be spent each year on economic transformation, while the Netherlands would have to spend 0.5 percent to achieve the same goal. Clearly, he said, the general level of economic development remains a decisive factor in the cost of achieving a carbon-free economy.

Hungary is ready to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, said Prime Minister Orbán, but “we want to see the source of its funding in the budget on a fair basis.”

“We want a fair and correct budget,” he said.

On the question of enlargement of the European Union, PM Orbán said that “we are all disappointed” that negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania have not begun and, because of that, negotiations that are already under way – with countries such as Serbia and Montenegro – need to be accelerated to make up for this bad decision, and ensure that “the idea of enlargement does not fade away”.

Background: The Friends of Cohesion group was set up in 2005 at the initiation of Poland to represent the interests of beneficiary Member States vis-à-vis net contributors, to raise awareness of current issues in cohesion policy, to coordinate positions and to settle disputes. The group met for the first time in 2012 in Bucharest. This year’s organizers said they expected leaders from Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, as well as representatives from Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, Spain and Greece, as well as EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

Photo credit: Népszava