“A fair agreement must be concluded with relation to Great Britain’s exit of the European Union, which takes sufficient account of and enforces the interests of both Europe and Britain”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said as a press conference in Budapest on Thursday following talks with the British Minister responsible for Brexit negotiations David Davis.
Mr. Szijjártó told reporters that he had invited David Davis to visit Hungary and that the British Minister was touring EU member states to inform their governments of Great Britain’s standpoint on Brexit in the interests of avoiding a Brexit with no agreement or a bad agreement.
“We respect the decision of the British people on Brexit, but we regret that this is a loss for Europe”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said. Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that Great Britain is a member of the UN Security Council, an atomic power with Europe’s largest army, and is Europe’s second biggest and the world’s fifth largest economy, in addition to which the country has a very special relationship with the United States.
Great Britain is Hungary’s 11th most important trade partner, with Hungary exporting 3.6 billion euros of goods to the United Kingdom last year. Great Britain is also Hungary’s seventh largest investor, and the 800 British companies currently operating in Hungary provide jobs for some 51 thousand people, the Minister told the press, adding that it is no exaggeration to state that the Central and Eastern European region could lose the most as a result of Brexit.
If the EU does not receive the scheduled British payments for 2019-2020 and they are not undertaken by other member states, it will mean losses of 1.4-1.5 billion euros for Hungary according to current calculations, he said.
According to official British statistics there are 55 thousand Hungarians working and studying in the UK, although estimates go as high as 200 thousand. Hungarians working in Great Britain each transfer some 6300 euros home every year, which is the fifth highest figure in the EU, he added.
“A fair agreement must be concluded with relation to Great Britain’s exit of the European Union, which takes sufficient account of and enforces the interests of both Europe and Britain. The EU must not sit down to the negotiating table while blaming and accusing the British, because that will not result in a good agreement”, he declared.
DownloadThe Minister said that in his opinion the EU must conclude an as comprehensive as possible free trade agreement with the exiting Great Britain, adding that if the EU is incapable of concluding an agreement of this nature then the British will sign their own free trade agreements with other major economic powers with whom the EU does not have a free trade agreement such as the United States, Brazil, China, India, Australia and New Zealand, and with the Gulf States, which will have a dramatic effect on countries open economies such as Hungary. Mr. Szijjártó said this was a “nightmare” scenario.
On the goals of the Hungarian Government, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said: the rights of Hungarian working in Great Britain must protected. “This is something we cannot concede”, he declared, adding that the chances of a mutually acceptable agreement on this issue were “extremely good”, and the British are clearly willing and open to such an agreement.
“We must also assure that the British continue to participate in the European security and defence systems”, Mr. Szijjártó said, adding that Hungary agreed with Britain that the European security system must not be reinforced in a way that brings about any kind of duplication with NATO, but that the European leg of the Transatlantic community must certainly be reinforced. This is however unimaginable without the British, he noted.
Mr. Szijjártó also said that an agreement must be made with regard to the British contribution to the EU’s joint budget that is capable of maintaining the balance of rights and responsibilities following Brexit.
In reply to a question, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said that for the moment there was no indication that the early national elections announced in Britain would have any effect on the schedule for Brexit.
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)