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Hungary wants a fair EU recovery package

In the Czech small town, the prime ministers of the Visegrád Group (V4: Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) had talks about the EU’s recovery fund, the next multiannual financial framework, the opening of the borders, tourism and migration.

At the joint press conference of the prime ministers, Mr Orbán highlighted that Hungary has a fundamentally positive approach to the proposal regarding the recovery fund, but it needs a lot more work and must be stripped of elements of the absurd. It poses a moral problem that, on the whole, rich countries would receive more money than poorer ones, and this is not right, he stated.

He took the view that there is also a need for a flexible utilisation of funds as money is needed for different things in different countries. At the same time, the system of rebates must be relinquished; previously Britain received rebates, but they have left the EU, he explained.

Photo: Cher Vivien Benko

Mr Orbán said regarding the restarting of the European economy that the whole idea that is referred to as ‘next generation’ is philosophically very far from what the Hungarians think about the world as in their view “money must be earned first, and then spent”. If someone wants to reverse this order – meaning that “they want to borrow, then spend the borrowed money and then work for it” – then everyone themselves should take the risks involved, he added.

He said at the same time they understand that the EU is adopting a different approach; they understand the underlying intention in that an extraordinary situation calls for an extraordinary solution.

He observed that Portugal is comparable to Hungary in size and level of advancement; however, Hungary would receive 30 per cent less money, and “this is surely not right”. However, if they succeed in eliminating anomalies, the proposal can be supported, he added.

He highlighted that the Visegrád prime ministers are the leaders of four successful countries as regards the containment of the coronavirus epidemic as by European standards they have done an outstanding job, have saved tens of thousands of lives and they now discussed how to save many hundreds of thousands of jobs. They issued a declaration which Hungary wholeheartedly supports as it has everything in it that is “important for us” and demonstrates the unity of the V4, he stated.

Photo: Cher Vivien Benko

In answer to a question, he said it is easy to correct the recovery package if rich countries realise that, with Britain’s departure, the system of rebates is morally untenable and if this amount is distributed among Member States fairly. He added that “we don’t want to take anything away” from the Southern countries, but it is impossible that countries “richer than us” should be given more funding.

He took the view that rebates should be relinquished, “they belonged to a different era”.

The Prime Minister also said the date of the next EU summit must be appointed carefully and sufficient preparations must be made because if they are unable to come to an agreement there, then that will convey a highly negative message to money markets and Europe. Therefore, the next meeting should only be convened once they are close to an agreement, and so a later date may be required, he said.

In answer to another question, Mr Orbán also said they launched the national consultation because the government expects support on two issues. The first one is about having to prepare for a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic, and the consultation is about which measures should be given priority, he pointed out. He added that Hungary has now achieved good results, but in a possible second wave they could do even better if they see the consultation through.

Photo: Cher Vivien Benko

He highlighted that the second topic is the restarting of the economy, and as Hungary is building a workfare society, not a benefit-based society, jobs must be protected. The consultation also concerns the means to achieve this.

According to the Prime Minister, the economic problems of 2020 must be solved in 2021, and the success of the Hungarian economy depends on the effectiveness of the government’s economy protection and job protection policy. It therefore stands to reason that the consultation should also include economic issues, he stated.

He stressed that he expects “encouragement and confirmation” as a result of the consultation.

Mr Orbán observed that “it was good to meet friends again,” and on Friday he will continue the talks they now started with the Slovak Prime Minister in Budapest. The Prime Minister offered his condolences to his Slovak counterpart on account of the Vrútky stabbing.