French President Emmanuel Macron held talks with the leaders of the V4 countries on Monday in Budapest. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
“We had a thorough and exhaustive discussion on migration, the rule of law, the Western Balkans, energy and nuclear energy,” PM Orbán said kicking off the joint press conference. He added that the parties spoke about these issues openly.
Responding to a question, the Hungarian prime minister said that in 2015 when Hungary was defending its borders, it was shot in the back from many sides. Now that the situation has changed, it is time to take stock, he added. It is not going to work that some countries have to mobilize serious forces to defend themselves, PM Orbán said, adding that we want to be paid for at least half of what we have spent so far on border defense.
Emmanuel Macron spoke about the Soviet Union's attack on Poland 40 years ago and also said that the EU is determined to make progress on migration. For the Schengen Area, political governance and deep reform are needed. The external borders must be protected, including the deportation of those who are not allowed to stay in the EU to their country of origin, Macron said. On the rule of law, he added that he had taken notes of the different positions.
According to the French president, the right agreement must be found on issues where progress can be achieved. Macron said we need a more efficient energy policy, that nuclear energy is not a temporary energy source, and that the ETS cannot be extended to households. A Western Balkans summit will take place in the coming months, he said, adding that there are differences of opinion, which need to be discussed in depth.
Addressing members of the press, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said that the EU is our common living space. Therefore, strengthening partnerships between member states is important, as we are still facing a pandemic crisis. Heger said that cooperation within the Visegrád Four was being constantly improved.
We are facing a difficult period, but this could greatly help the EU strengthen its place in the global arena, Heger said. He also said that “climate change is a big challenge that affects the whole world and carbon neutrality is an important thing that cannot be compromised, but the security of citizens must also be taken into account.” According to him, the French EU presidency's objective of broadening cooperation should be welcomed.
Andrej Babiš said that he remains a great friend of France and is confident that the new Czech Prime Minister will understand the importance of the V4. He pointed out that Viktor Orbán was the first to stand up for the protection of the Schengen Area in 2015, while now, everyone is building a fence. Almost all countries have accepted our approach to migration, he added. Babiš also spoke out for the sustainability of nuclear energy.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Macron had presented the six-month program of the French EU presidency. According to Morawiecki, Poland wants to cooperate with France on energy, but unfortunately, energy prices are very high at the moment and they are waiting for a clear position from the EC. “We are also very worried about the ETS, and it would not be right if commercial banks could be involved in its trading," he added. Other countries are dependent on the ETS and do not want banks to be able to speculate on it.
Polish PM Morawiecki underlined the fact that Poland is protecting the eastern borders of the EU and NATO, adding that human trafficking must be prevented. He also spoke about the rule of law by saying, “We operate according to a basic rule: What is allowed in one member state must also be allowed in another." Equality means that different rules are treated equally and that includes the judiciary, the Polish prime minister said. We are facing a post-global warming crisis, an energy crisis, a migration crisis and a security crisis, Morawiecki said.