PM Orbán in Brussels: We want a fair budget

Prime Minister Orbán spent the day in Brussels discussing the EU’s next, seven-year budget with senior EU officials, including European Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Over the course of “a long day” in Brussels, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met with European Council President Charles Michel to discuss an array of issues, dominated mainly by the next seven-year budgetary framework that will serve as the main theme of the extraordinary February 20 EUC summit.

“The next EU budget should be built on a fair basis. Its current driving principle is unfair; it contains amendments that would take money from poorer countries and give it to the rich,” Prime Minister Orbán said in a brief press conference with Hungarian journalists after his meeting with Charles Michel. Referring to other issues on the EU’s agenda, PM Orbán said that the bloc is off to a “dense half a year,” dealing with topics including migration, digitalization and enlargement.

While Hungary is yet to present its budget proposal, PM Orbán said that the draft currently on the table does little to change the “bad practice of the last seven years.”

“It contains unfair measures, such as giving a five percent share of certain funds distributed in Brussels to poorer countries, while they make up 20 percent of Europe’s population,” PM Orbán said referring to an EU-funded R&D program.

Although the European Council summit will convene on February 20, PM Orbán said, it does not mean that a decision has to be made that day.

“It would be good [to come to a decision right away], but the Hungarian position is that the quality of the budget is more important than the date of its adoption,” the prime minister said before detailing Hungary’s objections to the current financial framework.

First, the system of refunds is unfair and must be changed. Secondly, the draft doesn’t take into account that – via multinational companies that enjoy profits from their investments and operations – a significant portion of the funds transferred to Central Europe make their way back to Western Europe. Third, cohesion funds are reduced; and they are reduced in a disproportionate manner, that is, poorer countries lose more and richer ones lose less. Hungary’s fourth, and final, concern is the framework’s rigidity.

“We want a fair budget,” PM Orbán said in closing. “If it is fair, then it will meet Hungarians’ expectations, and we will have found a combination of numbers that is beneficial to all."

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