Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statement after a special summit of the European Council
21 February 2020, Brussels
I will try to sum things up. Talks in different formations have effectively been continuous – with some short breaks for sleep – since yesterday afternoon. Sometimes we’ve been in talks with the President of the Council, sometimes with the V4, sometimes with the “Friends of Cohesion”, and at other times in various bilateral talks. I’ve just left a meeting with the V4, and soon I’ll attend a meeting between the V4, Mr. Macron and Mrs. Merkel. In terms of the summit, President of the Council Charles Michel made a proposal on how much Member States should contribute – individually and jointly – in order to settle the revenue side of the budget. Four countries – these are rich countries, namely Austria, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands – have just created a new formation knowns as “the F4”, and have rejected his proposal: they’ve said that they’re only prepared to pay 1 per cent into the budget. This 1 per cent means that they’re offering 1 per cent of their Gross National Income, their GNI: their economic performance. In response to this, this morning we convened the “Friends of Cohesion” group of seventeen prime ministers, and we made a counter-proposal. We stated that this is not acceptable, and our counter-proposal is that we should compare everything with the amount recommended by [the European] Parliament: Parliament has recommended a contribution of 1.3 per cent of GNI. As eating can increase one’s appetite, and considering that seventeen is more than four, we then decided to transform ourselves from the “Friends of Cohesion Group” into the “Budget for an Ambitious Europe Group”. Our position is that if we want an ambitious Europe, we need an ambitious budget, and contributions must be close to 1.3 per cent, the amount suggested by Parliament. This is where we stand at present. In my view there’s no chance of reaching a compromise between the two positions, and if there’s no agreement on the budget’s contribution side – on the amount of money we’re talking about – then we will be unable to discuss how to distribute it. At the moment we are very far from an agreement; there are two positions which are very far from each other, and we will continue discussions at some point in the future. The Council President will make one more desperate attempt to create some kind of an agreement, but the gap between 1 per cent and 1.3 per cent is too large to be bridged, so that there’ll be no agreement today. This is the Hungarian assessment of the situation.