Talks over the last few months have culminated in the breakthrough achieved by Viktor Orbán and José Manuel Barroso at their meeting in Brussels yesterday. This is an important milestone, which is already producing favourable results in the markets. As you know, today there was a decision by the European Commission − the College of Commissioners, to be more precise − according to which, and I quote: “The Commission has decided to start talks with Hungary on precautionary financial assistance.”
A favourable decision on talks between the Commission and Hungary emerged from today’s meeting of the Commission. The organisation has accepted the answers given to questions it had raised on the National Bank of Hungary (MNB), and the infringement procedure in this area may now be terminated. The Government will carry out the measures it has committed to with urgency and in full, while at the same time continuing discussions with the European Central Bank (ECB) on questions which that institution has raised.
‘These two decisions represent a victory for compromise, in which the winners are Hungary, the EU and the market.’
As a result of continuous discussion between the European Commission and the Hungarian government, significant progress has been made on the other disputed questions. On the issue of the data protection authority there is a single outstanding question, and the same is true for retirement conditions affecting judges.
If the European Commission seeks to bring before the European Court of Justice the questions of the termination of the former data protection commissioner’s mandate and of the retirement age of judges, the Hungarian Government will present to the Court the arguments supporting these measures, and will implement the decisions arrived at by the Court.
In order to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, the Government will enact those measures which it has adopted in response to the comments made by the Venice Commission. It will continue dialogue with institutions of the Council of Europe on outstanding questions.
‘The process, which started in last November and December has been wide-ranging and far-reaching, and has required complex and lengthy negotiations at political and expert levels. Over the last few weeks the pace of events has quickened, together with the acceleration of infringement procedures.
‘Last week in Brussels I had very fruitful informal talks with European Finance Commissioner and Commission Vice President Olli Rehn, which saw a narrowing of the gap between our positions on outstanding questions.
‘Minister Navracsics’s talks with representatives of the Venice Commission and the dedicated work of the Ministry for National Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have laid new foundations in the areas of infringement procedures and financial policy.
‘The meeting yesterday in Brussels between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President of the Commission José Manuel Barroso resulted in a genuine breakthrough. Thus talks can begin between Hungary, the European Union and the IMF – with the participation of representatives from the ECB and the MNB – on a financial package providing a safety-net.
‘Since my appointment in December as lead negotiator for preparatory negotiations on a financial safety-net, I have striven for the earliest possible commencement of talks on a precautionary financial agreement, which was my brief from the Government.
‘The talks yesterday, at which both Viktor Orbán and I were present, were held in a spirit of cooperation and have resulted in an agreement based on rational compromises which is acceptable to all parties.
‘During the process of preliminary talks, which took place according to fixed procedures and deadlines, the Government’s goal has always been to arrive at a solution which does not damage our country’s sovereignty, does not employ double standards, serves Hungary’s economic and political interests, and is in accord with overall government policy.
‘We have achieved that goal. Whilst making clear our openness and willingness to compromise, we have striven throughout to ensure that − in accordance with the IMF Articles of Agreement − only economic and economic governance issues should feature in the preconditions and conditions on financing negotiations. Separate EU institutional measures and procedures exist for the resolution of all other disputed questions.’
It continues to be the Government’s express intention for substantive negotiations to begin as soon as possible. The Government also wishes to clarify in the near future the type of programme to be implemented, the amount of potential funding, and the conditions that may accompany the offer of a financial package to Hungary.