Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s press statement before a meeting of the “Friends of Cohesion” group of countries

5 November 2019, Prague (Praha)

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank Prime Minister Babiš for inviting me here and organising this meeting. The budget, the draft of which is now being debated across Europe, is the departing Commission’s draft. This means that it is not the work of the new Commission, but of the old one, and it contains the faults of the departing Commission. This is an unjust proposal, and we want justice. For this budget to be fair, it must be changed in four ways. First of all, we must do away with the rebate system. If one takes into account rebates and recalculates how much each Member State pays into the budget in relation to its own gross domestic, one sees that the situation is completely unfair. As regards fairness, the second thing we must consider is that a large percentage of EU funding that Central Europeans receiveis recouped by the western countries. This must appear in the proposal. The third unfair aspect is that they want to reduce the Cohesion Fund so that the poorer a country is, the more money would be taken from it, and the richer it is, the less money would be taken from it. In fact there are some rich countries which benefit from the system, and this is unfair. And finally, in order to make this budget a justone, we must increase flexibility. The current proposal, the Commission’s proposal, points in the opposite direction: instead of becoming more flexible, this budget will be increasingly inflexible, due to the many conditionalities.

Finally, I’d like to say that, despite this, we are optimistic. We are very lucky because in the V4 there are two prime ministers who have served as finance ministers – and they were Europe’s best finance ministers. And we are especially fortunate that the presidency of the V4 is currently held by the Czech Republic. So we have two prime ministers who previously served as finance ministers, and we are extremely lucky because one – who is heading the V4 cooperation as prime minister, the Czech one – was previously the legendary finance minister of the Czech Republic, who created a small Central European miracle here in the Czech Republic in financial issues. So I think we are very lucky that during the MFF [multiannual financial framework] negotiation period we have a prime minister who is coordinating the V4 with this background. I think, on behalf of Hungary, we have full trust in the head of the V4 in the negotiations, and we will follow strictly the line that the Czech side will take during this negotiation.

And one final remark about enlargement. We are all disappointed, but I’d like to point out that, having failed to start negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, it is extremely important to accelerate the talks with others that have already started. This means that we could make amends for the negative consequences of this bad decision – or somewhat reduce them – and ensure that the ideal of enlargement doesn’t completely fade away by shifting talks with Serbia and Montenegro into overdrive.

Thank you. 

Photo credit: Népszava