PM Orbán and PM Meloni discuss European competitiveness and migration in Rome

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome to address crucial issues, including European competitiveness, migration, and bilateral cooperation. This visit is part of PM Orbán’s European tour ahead of Hungary's presidency of the Council of the European Union starting July 1st.

Competitiveness and economic cooperation

PM Orbán stressed the urgent need for a European competitiveness pact, warning that without significant measures, Europe could face substantial job losses in the next decade. "If we don't establish a European competitiveness pact, hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost in the next decade," he emphasized. Both leaders agreed on the importance of fostering a competitive European economy, ensuring that the green transition collaborates with European industry rather than works against it.

Discussing economic ties, the prime minister highlighted key projects such as the Trieste port development and a logistics initiative in Ukraine, showcasing the deep economic cooperation between the two nations. "Our economic relations have quadrupled in the last 10 years, with 600 Italian companies providing jobs for 20,000 Hungarians," he noted.

Additionally, PM Orbán mentioned the strategic significance of connecting Hungary and Italy through a Slovenian gas pipeline segment, which would enhance energy diversification and security.

Defense cooperation

Defense cooperation was also a key topic, with PM Orbán noting the strong partnership between Italy and Hungary within NATO. He highlighted the presence of 256 Italian soldiers in Hungary as part of NATO’s forward-deployed battlegroup and the collaboration between Italian and Hungarian forces in the Balkans. "The Italian forces are the most numerous among the NATO troops stationed in Hungary," the prime minister added, emphasizing the robust defense ties between the two nations.

Migration and EU policies

Migration was another critical issue discussed. PM Orbán expressed support for Italy’s proposal for a comprehensive European strategy to develop African countries, aiming to address the root causes of migration. He pointed out that Africa's population is projected to grow significantly and there is a significant need to help these populations locally to prevent mass migration. "Either we have a European plan for developing Africa, or we will face mass migration we cannot control," he stated.

PM Meloni agreed, emphasizing the importance of protecting Europe's external borders and managing migration through innovative solutions. She highlighted the successful cooperation between Italy and Albania as a model for this. "We must stop mass illegal immigration, protect our borders, and combat human trafficking," PM Meloni stated.

Support for Hungary's EU Presidency

PM Meloni voiced strong support for Hungary’s priorities during its EU presidency, which include addressing demographic decline, enhancing competitiveness, and strengthening European defense. She stressed the importance of reversing demographic trends to ensure sustainable economic, social, and welfare systems in Europe. "A demographic shift is essential for a strong Europe," Meloni said. She also highlighted the necessity of increasing awareness and action on demographic issues within the EU, predicting that more allies would join this cause.

Both leaders also said that integrating Western Balkan countries into the EU is a crucial step for European reunification. "It's shameful and unacceptable that these countries have been waiting over 15 years to join," PM Orbán remarked. PM Meloni echoed this sentiment and underlined the need for the EU to deliver on its promises to these nations.

Critique of EU institutional politics

PM Orbán criticized the trend of politicizing EU institutions. He opposed the allocation of key EU positions based on party politics and argued that the EU should prioritize inclusion over creating divisions.

"The EU should not be about creating majorities and minorities but about including everyone," Orbán stated. He recalled the shift that began post-2014 when the European Commission transitioned from a politically neutral body to a political entity, which he believes has led to numerous problems.

"This approach contradicts the inclusion philosophy and is a strategically flawed path for the EU," he warned.

Overall, the meeting in Rome reinforced the strong bilateral relations between Hungary and Italy and set the stage for collaborative efforts during Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency. The discussions between PM Orbán and PM Meloni highlighted a shared vision for a competitive, secure, and demographically robust Europe.

The Italian prime minister concluded by wishing PM Orbán success in Hungary's EU presidency, emphasizing the importance of their continued partnership in addressing Europe’s critical challenges.